MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 18: (L-R) Second placed Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team, Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing, First placed Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 18, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Canadian Grand Prix: Top Three Press Conference

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 18: (L-R) Second placed Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team, Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing, First placed Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 18, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Full transcript from the FIA hosted top three press conference after the Canadian Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship, at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

Featuring race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), second-placed Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and third-placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

Track interviews conducted by Jenson Button

Q: Congratulations, Max yet another victory from the lights to the flag. How are you feeling?

Max Verstappen: Yeah, of course I’m very happy right now. It was not a very straightforward race because the tyres were not really getting in their window. It was very cold today compared to Friday and we were sliding around quite a bit. But yeah, we made it work and yeah to win again, today to win the 100th Grand Prix for the team, that’s incredible.

Q: Yeah, you must have a pretty special feeling about that. You’ve worked with this team for many years. Hundredth win, how does that feel to take that for the team here?

MV: It’s amazing. I mean, I never expected to be on these kinds of numbers myself as well, you know. So, yeah, we keep enjoying, we keep working hard. But today has been a great day again.

Q: Did you expect a bigger challenge from Aston or Mercedes here? Or is this is pretty much what you expected here in Montréal?

MV: Firstly, I expected more or less what we had today, but it was, like I said, really difficult to just keep the grip, the temperature into the tyres, because the grip was disappearing very quickly. That’s why maybe the gap was not that big. But yeah, we had a few Safety Cars here and there. But yeah, overall, we won, that’s the most important.

Q: And lastly, this is always a very special race to come to. A lot of fans here for the sport. They’ve been through a lot this weekend with the weather. Have you got a message for them?

MV: Yeah, I mean, they’re so passionate about the sport. Also, yesterday with the rain, they were just hanging in there, so that was great to see. And yeah, we love coming here. And hopefully we can do this for a long time.

Q: You’ve got a few fans here, Fernando. Was that the race you expected?

Fernando Alonso: Probably yes. I think we were hoping to challenge a little more the Red Bull. But we lost a place at the start with Lewis and then yeah, it was a battle with the Mercedes and Lewis was pushing all the race, so I didn’t have one lap where I could relax a little bit. So it was an amazing battle.

Q: It was lovely watching three multiple World Champions going at it. And you had a good little tussle with Lewis out there as well.

FA: I mean, at the beginning, I had a little bit more pace. At the end I think Lewis had a bit more pace. Yeah, it was tough. It was a very demanding race, you know, all 70 laps of qualifying today.

Q: We heard you had a few issues. You had to do a little bit of lift and coast. It’s always frustrating because you want to push to the maximum. Was that a fuel issue? Or was that a rear brake issue?

FA: I don’t really know. They didn’t tell me so maybe it was not to make me worry too much. But I don’t know. I felt the car was OK. But I was just following the instructions. So yeah, hopefully that means that we have a little bit more pace. So next one, putting more pressure on Max.

Q: I feel like I don’t need to ask you a question. These guys are doing it for us and a lot of support here for F1 and a lot of support here for you, Lewis. This has always been a pretty special track for you. Not the result you want, entirely, but you’re working hard out there.

Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, honestly it’s been a great weekend for us. I think we are slowly chipping away. I think the Astons took a little bit of a step ahead this weekend when they added the upgrades but we’re working on bringing some more moving forwards. But to just have this consistency and to be up on the podium here in Montréal, which is such an incredible city and we’ve got such a great crowd here every single year without fail. So big thank you to everyone here.

Q: You seem to be in a really good place. You know, there’s progress being made with the team, you yourself giving it your all. It’s such a pleasure for us all to see it on track. What are the areas you still think you need to improve to really take it to Aston and then finally Red Bull?

LH: Yeah, I mean, well, firstly, quite an honour to be up there with two world champions. I was really excited to be third and just trying to be in that mix. But unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace today. I think where we struggle… I mean, we knew that this weekend, this wouldn’t be our strongest circuit, as we struggle in the lower-speed corners particularly. And that’s really where I was losing to Fernando and to Max, just on traction out of Turn 2, out of pretty much every corner. We’ve got a lot of work to do just to add rear downforce to the car and a little bit more efficiency, but we’re chipping away as I said, and I do believe we will get there at some stage. Max was a little bit gone, but I think our pace is a little bit closer today, so we are going in the right direction.

Press Conference

Q: Max, very well done, another brilliant victory by you, you led every lap from pole position. Did the race play out as you expected?

MV: Well, to be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect because of the track in general. So it had nothing to do with competitors or whatever. But just for myself as well. Because also we changed the car quite a bit. We changed the car around quite a bit compared to Friday, so I didn’t really know how it would feel today. But yeah, luckily, it went in the right direction. But I think it was quite tough today to keep the tyres in the right window, they were always running quite cold. So we had to push actually quite hard on the tyre. And then with low grip, low rubber, it was not the easiest or most straightforward. But yeah, everything went well, just the hard tyre. Probably that stint was a bit of a limitation, because of the harder compound, even harder to keep the tyre temps. And I think we know that our car normally is very good when there’s high deg compared to other cars. And today probably you would have needed a car which is a bit harder on the tyre, to keep the temperatures in, you know. So it’s probably not been our best race today. But still, to win by nine seconds, I think shows that we have a great car.

Q: Well, nine seconds is the closest the gap has been at the flag all season. Do you feel Aston Martin have closed the gap here? Or do you think just it was a whole bunch of circumstances that just didn’t suit you so well?

MV: Well, from our side, like I said, I don’t think it was our best day, because of the tyre temps and stuff. So that doesn’t help. But I also know that with their updates, they naturally of course improved. So, for sure, they got closer to us.

Q: Now this win pulls you level with the late, great Ayrton Senna, on 41 wins. Senna is a legend of our sport. What does this milestone mean to you?

MV: Yeah, I mean, I hate to compare different generations. From my side, the only thing I can say is that when I was a little kid driving in go-karting, I was dreaming about being a Formula 1 driver and I would have never imagined to win 41 Grands Prix. So of course, to tie with Ayrton is something incredible. And of course, I’m proud of that, but of course, I hope it’s not stopping here. You know, I hope that we can keep on winning more races.

Q: And Max, just give us a few thoughts on your contribution to Red Bull’s 100 wins in Formula 1.

MV: Yeah, I mean, I’ve won 41 of them! But, yeah, we’ll talk about maybe a new contract because of that! No, honestly, it’s a great achievement for the team. We knew that this was the first opportunity, of course, to do so. And I’m happy that’s done. We’ve won 100. But again, I hope we win more than 100. So the new target is 200.

Q: Alright, very well done to you. Thank you, Max. Fernando, coming to you now. Given that you were nursing a problem today, how satisfying is it to cross the line just nine seconds behind Max?

FA: Very, very. I think it has been a tough race from the beginning, you know, when we lost a place at the start I thought that maybe that was already gone, P2, and I would have to concentrate on the guys behind, George and the Ferraris maybe. But then, yeah, we were able to overtake Lewis and we had a little bit more pace in that part of the race. And I was quite OK, until the last 20 or 25 laps, that Lewis was coming very fast and I had to push again to the limit. So yeah, all in all, it was 70 laps of qualifying. So there was no time to rest. And I loved it.

Q: You’ve just referenced losing a place to Lewis at the start, just tell us what happened?

FA: I didn’t know you know. With all these procedures, we go to the podium, then to the TV pen and now here and I still don’t know anything that happened to the lift and coast that I had to do, or the start. So maybe we need to reduce the media time and give us a little bit of time with the engineers and maybe we come here with more info.

Q: But how did it feel inside the car? Just the first five seconds.

FA: Slow!

Q: In terms of your reaction time, do you feel you…

FA: My reactions are still very good! No, I don’t think… I need to check, I don’t know if the guys starting on that side of the grid, they started good or not. Because I only sure Max and Lewis, obviously, but George didn’t overtake me, so maybe it was just the wrong side of the grid. Yeah, I cannot answer now.

Q: Strategic question from me now, you use the hard tyre for the last stint, whereas Max and Lewis were on the Medium. Just talk us through why you did that.

FA: We didn’t have another Medium. So that is something that you need to decide before Qualifying, the tyre allocation for Qualifying and the race, sometimes you decide to go for one Medium, one Hard because you think it’s enough; sometimes two Hard, sometimes two Mediums. And obviously with the very limited practice that we did on Friday, it was just a guess. I’m happy with the decision: for us the Hard was not a bad tyre at all and we were able to extend the stints, and in our car, it was a good tyre.

Q: Final one from me. You’re only nine points behind Sergio Pérez in the Championship now. Do you think you can beat him?

FA: Yes.

Q: Lewis coming to you now. Very well done, your third podium of 2023, your second in a row. How much satisfaction did this afternoon give you?

LH: It’s been a great weekend. Very difficult with the conditions but loving being in the car now with the car in a better window and a bit more on the right track. And for us to be up there, having battles with Fernando in the Aston, and being just on the second row, it’s been great. And to be on the podium, two races in a row is really, really fantastic for us. We were also running fourth in Monaco, so we’re definitely getting closer. And it’s going to be a battle of development, I guess, over the rest of the season. I reckon Max’s team are already working on next year’s car, so we need to take our eye a little bit off the ball and focus on next year also but yeah, happy to be up there.

Q: Tell us a little bit more about your battle with Fernando. Having followed the Aston up close for so many laps, where were the differences in your cars?

LH: Low speed, rear end. His rear end… I mean, I got to experience being behind Max and his rear is very strong. His rear end doesn’t move and he pulls ten car lengths probably on me just coming out of the corners. I think Fernando’s very, very strong on the brakes, and particularly very quick through Turn 10 and Turn 2. Those places, he was taking huge chunks out of me.

Questions from the floor

Q: (Jesús Balseiro – Diario AS) Question for the three of you. What’s the feeling when you share a flat-out race together, the only three World Champions on this grid, especially because the three of you haven’t had a fight together for the last ten years – or maybe Max and Fernando never. What are you feeling during this kind of race?

MV: 10 years ago, I was not on the grid, so… Nah, I remember, back in the day, I was watching these two already in Formula 1 racing each other, right. So, of course, very happy now that I’m in Formula 1 as well and racing them is probably the best thing out there. When we can share a podium together – I think we’ve done it now a few times? – I think it’s great. I think of course they want to swap positions, of course. I’m happy in the middle at the moment.

FA: I mean, it’s good, it’s great. I really enjoy these battles and these podiums. It happened in Australia,, I think last time and now here, and there is a lot of respect, a lot of talent when you fight against Max, Lewis. You know that you cannot make a mistake because they will take advantage of that, and they will not make a mistake. So, if you want to beat them, you need to be tenth-after-tenth, fastest to close that gap. It’s not anything that will benefit. It’s a very intense battle, very fair, very respectful, even in the overtaking possibility that we had on the DRS, for me when I passed Lewis, you know that you can trust what he’s doing: he will defend hard but within the limits. I guess same at the start, when you start in the first two rows with these guys, you know that there’s a sense of awareness and respect that it’s not sometimes in other parts.

LH: Not much more to add, but I agree with Fernando, it’s a privilege to be up here fighting these two who’ve done incredible in their careers. And this is quite an iconic top three. I don’t know if there’s been a top three like this ever before. I don’t believe there has. But yeah, so hopefully there’ll be more and hopefully, as Fernando said, there’s a lot of respect between us as we were able to race so closely and trust in one another. I’m really hoping at some stage we have more of a level playing field in our cars, and then we’ll have a much more exciting race, I think in the future.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Max a question for you. On the question of a flat-out race, how much of a flat-out race was it for you? Were you having to push a little bit more because of how much the tyres were struggling with the temperatures, or…

MV: Fernando’s already been asking me this! It’s tough, because normally it’s all about tyre management, right? But today was definitely more about pushing. But sometimes it was just going up and down a lot in lap-time. So then sometimes you couldn’t actually push to the limit, because you didn’t know what you were going to get. So, for me, on the Hard tyre, it was quite a bit of a struggle, and then on the Medium, I wanted to open-up that gap a little bit more. So then, of course, at one point, you’re seeing, like 10-15 laps to go and you have a good gap, you don’t want to take too many risks. It’s probably not flat-out pushing, but you cannot relax too much because then you lose the temperature in your tyres. So… yeah… somewhere in the middle of that. I don’t know what the percentage is, but…

Q: (Stu Cowan – Montréal Gazette) Question for Lewis. With Red Bull winning every race so far this season Lewis, does a sense of frustration set in that you simply can’t catch Max in the car that he’s driving?

LH: Beyond. It’s not a frustration anymore, if it ever was. It’s… you know how it is, and you know what you’re faced with, and there’s nothing I can do about their amazing performance. It’s likely that they will win every race, moving forwards, this year, unless the Astons and us put a lot more performance on the cars, or their car doesn’t finish. It’s not easy with the regulations to find the amount of performance that they have, advantage-wise. They’ve got to be 30 points upon us in certain points through the lap and we’ve got some work to do. But it’s not that it’s frustrating, I just, as I said, look forward to… I’m happy to firstly be back in the mix and I’m just hoping at some stage we can have it all a little bit more level so we can get back to some of the good races we had back in 2021. And to have all three of us in a super-tight battle would be sick.

Q: (Pedro Fermin Flores – TheGodFlores) Question for Max. Max, at any time during the race were you worried about the pace of Fernando and Lewis? Fernando, the next stop is Austria, with a sprint race included. What can we expect from you and from the team? And last one for you, Lewis. Please ask to Fernando: “Fernando, be always true and honest, what it means, the words ‘copy, leave it to me?'”

MV: Not worried but you are alert because you keep checking: is he catching or not? What do I need to do, because at the beginning of the race when he pass Lewis, OK, let’s see what his pace is and then initially it was quick and then I could manage my pace around it. And then on the hard tyres, I think the beginning was good, like I was creating a bit of a gap but then I started to struggle with my tyres a little bit so it’s constantly just talking to your engineers, seeing of course on the pit board what’s happening. You can’t relax too much, and especially today with the tyres being so cold, you have to be on it all the time, especially also here a street circuit. A tiny mistake is big lap time lost or you’re in the wall.

FA: Yeah, Austria, yeah, let’s see. I think the sprint weekend will not be ideal for us. We still have more time maybe of free practice with our new upgraded car. We still need to understand and optimise the package a little bit and in Austria, obviously with the sprint, we will have only FP1 to do that. But yeah, it is what it is. The circuit will be good and maybe better for the package as well, this one with a strange layout, let’s say. Maybe good for Ferrari, historically here as well with a long straight and short corners so maybe Austria we have a little bit more pace.

LH: I don’t know what the question was, I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand if I’m honest.

Q: (Pedro Fermin Flores – TheGodFlores) What the engineer said to him, that you were catching, you were under two seconds and then Fernando said ‘copy, leave it to me’. ‘Leave it to me’.
He will do the work to give you, not catching him. Leave it to me.

LH: I don’t get what the point is. He’s a multi-World Champion. so he knows what he’s doing.

Q: (Pedro Fermin Flores – TheGodFlores) Is it like a joke?

LH: Ah… I don’t get it.

Q: (Célini Ehret – F1only.FR) This is Father’s Day today. We know your father plays a very important role in your career, especially when you go karting. What is your comment regarding the influence of your father and your success of your career respectively?

MV: Yeah, I don’t even know where to start to be honest. We’ve lived through so many things. After my Dad’s own career he invested all his time in mine. It’s hard to explain how much he has dedicated to me, because I probably still don’t even understand how much he did. He was preparing everything, go-karts, engines and then driving all the way to Italy with me, in between school, then back. So many stories we can share. Sometimes we still talk about it, of course, when we are together. Yeah, it’s crazy. I probably only will fully realise how much he has done to me once I get kids, then you start to understand this kind of relationship. But yeah, without him I would not sit here today. He has taught me so much and prepared me so much from a very young age where sometimes I thought why does it need to be so serious straightaway, where you maybe want to play around a bit more and have fun. But he was working towards this goal. He had this goal set for me to be first of all better than him and then tried to get to Formula 1. And then I got to Formula 1 and then slowly of course… we still call every day. Before the race I was still talking to him about what we’re going to do with the strategy and stuff like that. He likes to know even when he’s not here and yeah, just like to have that kind of relationship with your Dad. After go-karting of course, when you go into cars, it’s a bit less personal what was happening here. So sometimes you miss these kinds of go-karting times when you’re travelling together in a van all the way there. But yeah, to share these moments together I think is very special. And today was of course also Father’s Day, so I don’t need to buy him a present, I did this so I think he’s happy.

FA: It’s not the day in Spain, in Spain it’s in March, I think. But anyway, congratulations to my father… Yeah, my father is different, he has no talent at all to drive. And so yeah, he teach me and educate me in different ways and more for different things in life. He didn’t have the vision of being a professional driver when I was a kid. Yes, I was racing in go-karts and in different things but he was just thinking that that will end soon. And, you know, my life will be completely opposite to professional sport. So he was always very… with the feet on the ground, let’s say, and teaching me all the things and other values because it was difficult to believe that I was able to reach Formula 1 one day and that’s the beauty of our story.

LH: Yeah, same as these guys. Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, I already posted about it this morning. He sacrificed everything for me to be here today so I continue to try and make him proud. I know how hard it was for him with everything that he faced because I was right there with him. But the ultimate dream is always to be like your father. I want to be like my father.

Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) Lewis, now you’ve had a couple of races with the new Mercedes upgrades, can you just explain how it feels in the car now pre- and post-upgrades? And secondly, what’s next on your shopping list because you mentioned the superior rear end of the two guys next to you? What’s next beyond that as well?

LH: In truth, it doesn’t feel a huge difference to the beginning of the year. There are some elements of the car which do feel different and obviously with the upgrade but it’s just simply just have a little bit more downforce on the car. But the characteristics of the car are very, very similar to what we had earlier on in the year and so we need to… for the future, for the next year’s car, you need to take a lot of these different things off and change them for sure. It’s definitely not the car that… characteristic-wise the car that’s going to be able to beat the Red Bull just yet. And so we’ve got to work on that. For example, it was very bumpy, this track, and I think everyone was struggling but our car was very stiff. But I think we were all struggling with the stiffness of our cars. But today was bumpy. That’s the one that thing that… I would say that’s something I dislike most about this generation of cars, right? Back in the day was smooth down the straight. I mean, you’re generation…

MV: It’s, a big difference to what ’16, ’17?