Singapore Grand Prix: Top Three Press Conference

Singapore Grand Prix: Top Three Press ConferenceTranscript from the post-race interviews and FIA hosted top three press conference after the Singapore Grand Prix, Round 17 of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship season.

Featuring 2022 Singapore Grand Prix race winner Sergio Perez (Red Bull), second-placed Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and third-placed Carlos Sainz (Ferrari).

Track Interviews conducted by Paul Di Resta.

Q: Carlos, obviously on the podium today, third, looked a pretty tough race. How was it for you?

Carlos Sainz: Yeah, very tough out there and never really got into a rhythm in the wet and then, yeah, couldn’t challenge the top two guys because I was always struggling a bit more with the rear, with the car. So, in the end, in these conditions, when you don’t have that extra bit of confidence I had to settle a bit for P3. The good thing is I didn’t’ do any mistakes, I could bring the car home and I could be quick towards the end of the race when I managed to build a bit of confidence – but yeah, good result for the team for the Constructors’ Championship. A shame that we couldn’t get the win.

Q: Like you say, you take it. Were you surprised how long it took to dry? I know yesterday we saw the similar conditions in Qualifying but you would have thought in the race it would have went a bit quicker.

CS: Yeah, it’s crazy how long it takes here to dry. I don’t know but we keep doing laps, and you keep looking at the track and the dry line never appears in some places, and it keeps sliding a lot. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind for the future because this track is pretty unique on that.

Q: Charles, that’s going to be a frustrating afternoon, obviously lining-up in pole position, following Checo the whole race – but you have to say you pushed all the way to the end. It just wasn’t quite enough, was it?

Charles Leclerc: Yeah, I pushed all the way. I mean, the bad start put us on the back foot and after that it was a really difficult race after that.

Q: What happened at the start? Where did you lose the momentum? Because it looked like you made initially a good start but then lost out in the second phase.

CL: I had a little bit of wheelspin and lost the performance there.

Q: And physically, how was the race?

CL: Difficult! Difficult – now a good night’s sleep and we’ll get ready for Japan.

Q: Checo, four-time race winner. I think that has to be up there with your best-ever drives in Formula 1, with the pressure you dealt with, with Charles all the way through that, to keep the car on the track at the end in those drying conditions.

Sergio Perez: Yeah, it was certainly, I think, my best. My best performance. I controlled the race, although the warm-up was very difficult. The last few laps was so intense. I really… I didn’t feel it that much in the car but when I got out of it, I felt it. You know, I pushed. I gave everything for the win today.

Q: You’re under investigation for a Safety Car infringement. Are you aware of what happened? I know the team told you to make sure you extended the gap – but do you know anything you did wrong?

SP: No, I have no idea what’s going on. They just told me I was under investigation, so increase the gap, and it’s what we did.

Q: And obviously keeping the championship alive, obviously with Max where he finished you take it into Japan – but with momentum on your side.

SP: Yeah. I think it’s nicer for Max to get it in Japan, and for the team. Would be very special for Honda. So, yeah, all in all a fantastic day.

Press Conference

Q: Checo, what a race, you’ve just led every lap of the Singapore Grand Prix. How good does that feel?

SP: It felt great. It was such a good start, first of all, which really, was great, you know, to really do the first… I basically felt that I had the race on the first section, on the Inters, under control. I could really do what Charles was doing, and open-up the gap. If was important to make sure we had good tyre life. I honestly was expecting the track to dry-up earlier than it did. I think if George wasn’t out there, there will be a lot more people going earlier. But at the same time, I mean, it was such a tricky race. I think the keys to the race today was to control the pace on the Inter, have good pace when we need it, and the second one was to survive on the slicks in the beginning, because we were with extremely poor conditions. I think sometimes people, when they’re looking at you, underestimate how hard it is, and how easy it is for us to make a mistake. We basically were going to few places where it was properly damp, properly wet and it was super, super tricky, to make a mistake. I had a lot of moments, so first of all, I’m really happy I finished the race. But secondly, to win this race. It’s super special.

Q: You said earlier that you think this is your best drive in Formula 1. What made this one so special?

SP: I think how intense it was, you know? To keep Charles behind, especially after the restart, when the warm-up was super hard and we were going basically… half the track was on the dry side but the other half was good enough for Inters – and we were on the slick. So not to make a mistake, and control Charles, who was really strong in the early phases. But then, I think the pace I had in the last few laps was really strong because to basically be able to have that was really, really strong.

Questions from the floor (To Sergio Perez)

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Checo, you’re under investigation for the Safety Car infringement. What happened there from your point of view? And what have you told the stewards?

SP: Well, I think basically… I’m pretty confident there’s nothing with it, because there was a bit of miscommunication with Bernd. On the places where I could keep up with him, he was super slow; on the places where I could not keep up with him, he was fast. So it was a bit of miscommunication there. But yeah, I think these conditions are not normal. So, it’s fully understandable that the conditions that we were in, that we were facing, especially final sector, were super tricky. So yeah, I do expect now, no further action in that as the stewards were pleased with my explanation and they understood it.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agence EFE) Checo, congratulations. And how anxious were you to get this fourth win and the Formula 1 And how happy are you now after hearing all those people singing Cielito Lindo? I think you talked to your son. Can you give us some explanations?

SP: Yeah, I’m super happy. This win is really special for me, because I’ve had a bit of a rough patch in the last few races. And I mean, obviously, the media in Formula 1 makes it extremely, a lot bigger, maybe because I’m just Mexican and if I’m not two races in a row in the podium, then I’m having a worst season ever and Red Bull should drop me and all that sort of stuff that you get to see. And yeah, it’s just nice to get that win and yeah, it’s not a reminder to anyone of how good I am. But it’s just always good to be able to put together this sort of performances. And yeah, just keep going, you know, we kept working really hard.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Checo, after the second Safety Car restart when you were on slicks, you were complaining about driveability problems in and out of corners. Can you just explain what happened there? And how did it come up?

SP: Yeah, I think it’s just what I said before, you know, when you’ve just lost all your temperature behind the Safety Car, and you’re going with a slick tyre through a wet patch it’s really difficult, you know. You are just a passenger. And people really don’t understand how hard it was for us out there today in those conditions. We did struggle a bit with driveability, so it’s something we have to work on. There were a few occasions where the engine was doing something we were not expecting. So yeah, a few things to understand from there.

Press Conference

Q: Charles, brilliant job by you as well, though I’m sure you’re feeling a little frustrated. Does this feel like 2019 all over again?

CL: No, no, every race has a different feeling. But the frustration is there, obviously. I mean, the pace was really good today. Unfortunately, we had a bad start and from that moment onwards we were a little bit on the backfoot. I tried to put quite a lot of pressure on Checo. But yeah, you overheat the tyres pretty quickly, and then you drop a little bit. So it was very difficult to stay always on the gearbox of Checo. But the performance was there. I also think that the choices we’ve made today were the right ones. And as I’ve said before this weekend, no, I want to use these last few races for us to get better on the execution of the race, especially, and I feel like it’s a step forward this weekend. We need to do other steps forward. But it’s a good step in the right direction. And on that I’m happy. But of course frustrated with the second place today.

Q: You’ve said it came down to the start. Can you just talk us through what happened in those first 200 metres?

CL: Well, I don’t really know yet, whether it’s me who did mistake in the way I do things or if it’s something else, we’ll have to analyse it. The only thing I felt is that I had a little bit a bit of wheelspin, and lost it and I saw Checo had an amazing start. So yeah, that’s the way it went. But it’s like this.

Q: The car seemed to come alive on slick tyres in the second half of the race. So you had more pace than Checo at that point?

CL: At the beginning, yes, but I pushed quite a lot. And then in the last 10 laps, I think he started to pull away again. But overall, I think the performance was also good on the inters, it’s just that obviously it was not super wet, so the tyre temperatures will go pretty high and then I will lose quite a bit of grip whenever I was behind him. But then after Safety Car, we will always be pretty strong. But I think there’s also things that we can analyse from this race because Red Bull seems to be very, very good after six, seven laps. We are very, very good in the first six, seven laps. And we’ll look into that.

Q: Right. Well done to you. And Carlos coming to you now. It looks like a slightly lonely race for you. How tough was that?

CS: Yeah, it was unfortunately quite lonely for me because I just didn’t have the pace. Today on the intermediate tyre, I lost a lot on the road to Charles and Checo. I couldn’t keep up with him. I was struggling quite a lot on these tyres. I think I lost quite a bit the front and I was having a lot of moments, a lot of front locks, and every moment here costs you confidence and costs you the ability to recover that pace. Yeah, at one point I had to settle a bit and recover that confidence because I couldn’t keep up and once the confidence recovered in the slick and towards the last 10-15 laps. I managed to be quick but it was just way too late.

Q: Okay, quick at the end, you also made a great start. Just talk us through that and the run to Turn 1 with Lewis Hamilton?

CS: It was a good start. I think as good as it gets in the wet to be honest because I felt like me and Checo pulled away together and yeah, I could get Lewis and then he obviously tried to get me around the outside, but you’re not going to get me around the outside so easily, no, because it’s a bit my corner at that point and glad that we didn’t have any issues on the car or at least it didn’t feel like it and we could keep the position and then it was all about managing the gap to him because it was clear for me that in order to catch the guys in front I had to take too many risks.

Q: This is the first time we’ve had two Ferraris on the podium since Miami. Do you agree with Charles that the team has executed a good race weekend, on your side of the garage?

CS: Yes, yes, it’s good news to see that the race was well executed on both sides. There still things I’m convinced that we need to keep improving and do better. But the team is taking massive steps forward. And we’re learning from every situation. And as Charles said, you know, these last five races, or these last six counting with this one, they are going to be great preparation for us in order to be better at the front next year, because it’s clear that the car is there, the drivers we’re there, we just need to keep improving the execution and whenever we have the opportunities, nail them.

Questions from the floor

Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – Sportskeeda) Carlos, normally mixed grip level conditions are one of your fortes. Apart from the tyres, was the physicality of the track and the intermittent conditions adding to your loss of confidence in the pace?

CS: No, no especially on the wet, I don’t feel like the track is physical at all, it’s usually warm in the car but this is not a problem because the physicality of it is much lower, it was just a matter of pure, pure pace and confidence. I think here confidence is key and when you have a couple of moments, it snowballs and then you have to take a bit more margin and then you start losing extra pace compared to other tracks because next time around, you might be in the wall and you might look like an idiot, no? So it’s a confidence thing that I will work on, I will have a good look with my engineers to see what I could have done better, what we can do in these sort of conditions because as you said, is my one of my strongest points as a driver. And I think it’s going to be only a one off.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agence EFE) Carlos, we know you always expect more. I don’t know if you’re a little bit angry because of that or it was a point where Lando was getting close to you. I don’t know if you were happy to be on third spot or how are you feeling about this?

CS: No, I think I cannot be happy because I wish I could have put some pressure together with Charles and Checo and we could have been both up there to play a bit with Checo but today I simply didn’t have the pace and it’s something that I need to look at. That’s why I’m not happy at all, because it’s normally the conditions where I normally am quite quick and normally execute good races. At some point I had to settle a bit because it was not worth taking any risks because I was P3 with ten seconds behind and ten seconds in front and at that point you have to bring also the P3 for the team, no, instead of pushing a bit too much and making a mistake. So yeah, something to look at but of course I am not happy and I will look at this race with good analysis and come back stronger in Suzuka.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Charles, about the period after the second Safety Car restart on the slicks when you were really, really close to getting Checo, and you were well within the DRS range. Then you had a couple of moments at turn 16. I wanted if you could just talk us through that and was losing the DRS really what ended your chase?

CL: I was quite surprised because as soon as I lost the DRS I think it was exactly at the time when Checo’s tyres started to work properly and unfortunately then I lost it a little bit. But yeah, before that everything was really on the limit, with the dirty air in conditions like this the slightest mistake you pay big time. So I did few mistakes, I was just trying to be as close as possible because I basically had to make the overtaking on the straight. I couldn’t really go on the braking zone and brake later because I didn’t really know how was the track on the inside and I didn’t want to take that risk. I had one lap where I was really close and I actually thought about going in the inside and braking later but for me, it was not worth it so I was just waiting for the right opportunity. That unfortunately didn’t arrive at the end.

Q: (Laurie Vermeersch – F1only.fr) Charles, and about these last ten laps, let’s say, what was your set of mind? Were you so tired that you couldn’t fight anymore? What was your mindset at this time?

CL: No, you push until the end. I knew that obviously Checo was under investigation, my engineer had told me that so I was pushing and then as soon as he told me okay, Checo is 5.1 seconds in front then it was just all about bringing the car to the end. The conditions were really, really tricky and as Carlos said, it’s just very, very tricky to drive the car and as Checo said also, mistakes can be very easy to do. So as soon as I knew that the five seconds gap was done, I just brought the car home.

Q: (Muhammad Pratama Supriyadillah – Motorsport.com) Charles, you said that Checo’s tyres started to work properly, but at the same time there’s a couple of times that he locked up. I think it is like a chance for you to overtake but what makes it difficult for you to overtake Checo at those lookups?

CL: Well I wasn’t close enough unfortunately, whenever he had those lookups. I don’t think it was especially down to how ready were his tyres. I think he did few mistakes at the beginning, which is again, normal in those conditions but yeah, I wasn’t close enough to actually attempt an overtake unfortunately.

Q: (Alex Kalincuakas – Autosport) Charles, Just going back to the start, obviously it looks like you and Checo reacted pretty similarly, then obviously with the wheel spin kicking in, we’ve seen a couple of times the Ferrari in the wet this year hasn’t started great… thinking back to Imola. Did it feel similar to that? And also, if you had led that first stage on the inters, might the result today have been different?

CL: Again, I think track position in Singapore is really, really important and to be honest, I felt like we had a really good pace today. But having said that, it’s our responsibility to do a good start and today Red Bull have been better than us on that. But I don’t think it’s a tendency for us though. I think Carlos did a great start today so we’ll look on my side and try to make it better.