British Grand Prix: Top Three Press Conference

British Grand Prix: Top Three Press Conference

British Grand Prix: Top Three Press Conference

Full transcript from the FIA hosted top three press conference after the British Grand Prix, Round 10 of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship, at Silverstone.

Featuring race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), second-placed Lando Norris (McLaren) and third-placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

Track interviews conducted by David Coulthard

Q: Max Verstappen, your second victory at the British Grand Prix (sic), people are talking about the dominance of you this season but that was far from easy to win that race.

Max Verstappen: Yeah, we had a terrible start, so we need to look into why that was – but even after that, I think, especially Lando, he was very… well both McLarens… were super-quick. So, I took a few laps to pass them and that at one point I could ease-out a gap and I think everything looked quite alright again. But then again, after the Safety Car, on the softest compound around here, it was a little bit more tricky for us to keep them alive, basically, so the gap basically stayed a bit around 3-3.5 seconds. So, of course, very happy that we won again, I mean, 11 wins in a row for the team, I think that’s pretty incredible but it wasn’t straightforward today.

Q: We know how it finished. Take us back to the start, off the line. Seemed like you got a little bit more wheelspin in your initial phase and that allowed Lando to really just come up your inside before Turn 1.

MV: Yeah, I mean I was doing a bit of drifting on Thursday with marketing and it felt like I was also doing it on this start, which wasn’t very good. It was just very bad. We’ll look into that, because I think the last few starts were actually a lot better, and then today wasn’t that great. But at least it made it a bit more exciting. I had to push for it. Lando didn’t really put up a fight, he was very nice to me but then he came back in the DRS, so he had a lot of pace today.

Q: We’ve got Lando here. You guys are good buddies, so…

MV: He did very well today.

Q: Great to see the friendship between you two guys. I suspect that will change if you keep performing like you have this weekend. You drove brilliantly, and you had to defend against a seven-time World Champion, whilst leading against a two-time World Champion.

Lando Norris: Yeah! Pretty insane. I just want to say a big thanks first of all to the whole team: they’ve done an amazing job and none of this would be possible without the hard work that they’ve been putting in, so pretty amazing, pretty insane. They put me on Hard tyres, I don’t know why, they’re still beginners in some things! It was an amazing fight with Lewis, to hold him off, I made a few too many mistakes maybe. I did what I could, I brought the fight to Max for as long as possible. It’s a long, lonely race when you’re just in the middle but it’s amazing.

Q: We heard you calling for the Soft tyres. That looks like what the majority of teams were going that route. So, with the Hards though, it was very impressive what McLaren were able to deliver.

LN: Yeah. I think they just wanted to give me a bit more of a test, I guess. That’s what Zak said anyway. Probably Zak called the shots on that one. I wanted the Softs. I feel it made a bit more sense, especially with the Safety Car coming out – but I don’t care. I’m P2, so all good.

Q: P2, first podium at the British Grand Prix and your seventh podium in your racing career.

LN: Yeah, pretty amazing. The whole in-lap I was just trying to wave to everyone. So, a big thanks to all the British fans out here supporting all of us. Also for McLaren. Honestly, we should have have P2 and P3. Oscar did an amazing job all weekend, and he should have been P3 today without the Safety Car, so a shame, he deserved it. The fans are amazing – so a big thanks to all of them.

Q: Lewis Hamilton, welcome to your 14th podium at the British Grand Prix. You talk about the power of the crowd here, you did it again. You came from what was obviously a difficult qualifying to deliver a brilliant podium here at Silverstone.

Lewis Hamilton: Well, firstly, I didn’t do it, the crowd did it. Once again, Silverstone put on an amazing show, we’ve got the greatest crowd here. So big, big thank you to everyone for supporting. I felt the energy, I felt the support. This is the reason we got back up there. Also, I just want to say a big congratulations to Lando and to McLaren, where it was my family, where I first started, so to see them back up there, looking so strong. I mean, that thing was rapid through the high-speed corners. Wow. I couldn’t keep up, but we had a good little battle on the restart. The start wasn’t so great for me but the long run on the Medium was really great, so I think this is a good positive for us as a team, to know that we’re not that far away, that we’ve got to just keep on pushing, and we can catch those guys up front.

Q: We’re watching here behind us that battle you had with Lando. You got him up the inside of Brooklands and then, well, you just didn’t quite have the straightline speed as you went to Copse.

LH: Once he goes through Turn 13 or 14, or 15, he’s gone. So we had good performance in the lower speed – but we had a good little battle there – I just didn’t have the grunt on the straights. But I’m really happy: to start seventh and come third is a mega, mega job, so big Thank You to my team: great pitstops, great work all weekend, and I love this crowd.

Q: Well, Lewis, we should give the final word to you, to the crowd.

LH: It continues to be an honour for me to race and represent all of you. We’re going to continue to push, thank you for the support, and I hope you had a great day today. Thank you so much and God bless.

Press Conference

Q: Max, let’s start with you many congratulations, your sixth consecutive victory. You’re enjoying an incredible run of success. Just how sweet was this one?

MV: Yeah, it wasn’t particularly straightforward. I had a bad start, a lot of wheel spin. So, I had to work my way up again to Lando, took a few laps, then also took a few laps to cool down the tyres again in the lead, because Lando came back at me again in the DRS. But then once everything settled in, we lap-after-lap could open up the gap to, I think at one point, it was like nine seconds before the Safety Car came out. So, I guess that was very positive. Everything was working quite well but it was still quite surprising to see that the McLaren was actually that quick, or Lando was that quick, over the whole stint. And then, of course, because of the Safety Car, we had to make the decision what tyre to put on: the Soft or the Hard, so we opted to go for the Soft, which at the time I thought was right. But when I restarted, it took only two, three laps and then I realised that it was quite tricky to keep them under control with the temperatures. The gap, of course, stayed quite similar, but it wasn’t particularly nice to drive. So, we’ll look into that, maybe we should have gone on the Hard tyre, at least we could have pushed a little bit harder over the whole stint. Maybe, of course, the first two, three laps are a bit more difficult, but at least towards the end, probably it was a bit faster.

Q: Can you talk us through the opening moments of the Grand Prix? What happened is you are trying to get away from the line?

MV: Yeah, just a lot of wheelspin, and, of course, as soon as that happens you lose so much drive, all the way to Turn 1. And then, Lando was in front, I just tried to stay out of trouble through Turns 3, 4, then I had a little battle with Oscar into Copse, had to stay on the outside. But yeah, it all worked out.

Q: Now, there were a few anxious radio calls during the race from you. You said at one point ‘the cars pulling, it’s a bit weird’. That was one of them. And you also didn’t like the Soft tyre. Were any of these serious issues?

MV: No, they were not serious, but I like to report these things to the team. The wind was very, very bad. At one point, it was really unpredictable. So that’s what I reported.

LH: You know he’s serious when he puts the ‘F’ in front of it. Have you seen your videos?

MV: That was 2020! That was a great year. Yeah, that was a good one.

Q: Max, final one from me. You are ever present at the front at the moment but what do you make of the changing order behind you at the moment?

MV: It’s very confusing to me because every single race weekend, it’s someone else. I think is because it’s so close behind that if you get your car in a little bit of a better window, it works on one particular track. So for me, I don’t know what’s going to happen in Hungary to be honest, who is going to be quick or the second quickest. The stable factor so far is that every single weekend, it seems like we are on top, which of course is the most important from our side. But again, Hungary completely different track, we will put some upgrades on the car there and hopefully they will work well.

Q: Lewis, great job by you, your 14th British Grand Prix podium. How much did you enjoy being out there again?

LH: Well, firstly, congrats to Max and, and especially Lando, because it was great to see… it was a great battle we had but it’s really amazing to see the McLaren back up in competitive form. I think it’s been such a long time. So, and then for me, I really didn’t expect to be on the podium today. But when we go through all the different strategy options, this is the one you hope for, which is the Safety Car. I basically put on the Medium tyre in the hope and plan to just stay out on them until the very end, until the Safety Car potentially would come, and fortunately it did. So our a long run pace is really good and really grateful for the team for continuing to push. We do have a lot of work to do on our car to put ourselves in proper competitive form to fight the Red Bulls and now McLarens.

Q: You were eighth at the end of lap one. What were you thinking at that moment?

LH: I can’t tell you the actual words I was thinking, but it was a one of the worst opening laps that I’ve had for a while. So I think, ultimately, just trying to gather my thoughts and calm down and not be erratic, but I had a relatively decent start and then into Turn 3 just seemed to lock the rears for some reason. I think we had a tail wind into there and for me, I just kept snapping and went wide and the same thing happened and then the same into Turn 6 and Turn 7. It was very tricky on the first lap but then after that, just try to find my feet. And the Ferraris were pretty quick so it wasn’t easy to catch them and overtake but put us in a good position. But the most impressive part was at the end following him (Lando). Honestly, it was just… it was nice… it was amazing to watch how good his car was in high speed. And I know that we’ve got some work to do to catch up.

Q: Tell us more about that battle because at various points we saw you side by side going into Copse?

LH: Yeah, I threw it up the insight into Turn 7 in the hope that I can finally… this is the moment that I’m going to make it happen and I pressed the overtake button… Did you press the overtake button? So we’re both going down the road with the overtake but he had less drag so I guess he said they had a smaller wing and they just started pulling so I had to back out. But I was relatively quick in the first half of the lap and I think if you look at our qualifying laps, we were very, very close to Max all the way until… I think it’s until Turn 13 and then that’s where they pull all their time. So we’ve got some work to do to improve our high speed performance.

Q: Lewis, final one for me. do you think McLaren had a faster car than you this weekend?

LH: Yep. Yes, 100% and last week. But this is the first time in a long time and they deserved to have the performance they have, as I said, so we’ve got to do a better job. They’ve now done a better job than us and looking forward… What I would say is that this is one of the most exciting times I think we’ve seen in the sport where we’re finally starting to see the regs pull people closer. You’ve seen the Williams was up there with Albon. You’ve seen the McLarens now, the Astons so we have a lot of teams getting very, very close: small gaps within qualifying which is exactly what we need. So I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the year evolve.

Q: Lando, coming to you: your best finish at Silverstone. Of your seven Formula 1 podiums, how does this one rate?

LN: I’d probably say one of the best. I would say the best, most exciting one. I think your first podium in Formula 1 is always pretty, pretty special, that’s the one you remember forever but maybe not when you’ve got as many as they do. But for me, I’m still in that phase where every one means a lot and especially my first one here at my home Grand Prix is very special, hearing everyone chanting and seeing all the fans, seeing all the team below the podium, again it’s something like I saw back in 2007, 2008 when I first started watching Formula 1 and seeing Lewis and Fernando here. And now it’s my turn to… this was a couple years ago. It’s pretty stressful to be here now and be in that position, especially on a day like today with how tricky it was at times so I’m very, very proud.

Q: And how did it feel to lead the British Grand Prix during those early laps?

LN: My heart was racing a bit more than normal and I was watching the crowd a few times and just yeah, just watching them. All right, look at look at this guy! [to Hamilton]. Shush, shush. The team have done a good job, they’ve improved the car. The last few weekends we’ve been extremely good so I’m very happy for them. But yeah, to get the launch kind of saved me quite a bit, saved me from some of the chaos behind because you never know what can happen in Turn 3 and Turn 4. I managed to push on quite a bit the first few laps which was exactly what we wanted to do. It just doesn’t always go to plan but we planned for that and it got me out of trouble and we had a very good pace the first stint. We managed to break away from everyone quite a bit, managed to go with Max for a little bit, just not as much as what I would have loved to do.

Q: You were unhappy about having the Hard tyre for that final stint. In hindsight was it the right call?

LN: It’s a very difficult one to answer. Would I have preferred the Soft? Would the Soft have made me be under less stress for the first three laps after the Safety Car? I think absolutely. I didn’t have a new Soft. Were you guys on new Softs? No. They told me new Softs. I didn’t think they did, but they told us.

MV: Almost new.

LN: So we would have been in the same position. So I don’t see why we shouldn’t have done it. I feel like we put ourselves under a lot more pressure to try and get a Hard tyre to work with a Safety Car restart with only 10 laps to go pretty much. It’s one we’ll talk about. I was telling them to think of the Softs quite a bit, insinuating it as much as I could but then they just told me “you’re on the Hards”. Not really what I wanted, but it’s still worked out.

Q: Just talk us through the battle with Lewis at the end?

LN: Yeah, it was a very good one. It was exciting. I really did want to hold on to P2, so I did everything I could and a lot of it was trying to get the temperature in the tyres for the restart. But luckily as he said the first half a lap they were very strong, even in Qualifying they were up on us all the way until Maggotts, Becketts section. We were just very good always in the last sector. Not the best, maybe with DRS. That’s where Red Bull are extremely quick, but they’re very good in the first half so Turn 3, Turn 4, Turns 6 and 7, Lewis could quite easily get on me. But then we’ve always been very good in high speed and now it’s a very good strength of ours, it keeps the tyres in a good condition and I was a lot of laps quite easily flat through Turn 9 and yeah, two downshifts into Maggotts and Becketts and I could always give myself that safety margin that I wanted but it was nice coming out side-by-side. It was close, when I saw him I throw it up the inside in Turn 7. And yeah, I’m sure the fans were loving it at the same time but I chose a slightly lower downforce level yesterday which was a bit of a risk but I thought there might be a racing situation where one or two kph might have helped me out and today I did exactly that. So I’m thanking my own decision to choose a lower downforce.

Questions from the floor

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Lewis, another question for you about the battle with Lando. You’ve been very complimentary about Lando’s race craft in the past. Seeing it up close and seeing that battle, how impressive is it to see Lando doing what he’s doing?

LH: Yeah, once again, he is very talented, naturally, as you can see and I think is great when you can have close battles like that and rely on the driver that you’re competing with to be fair and hard but fair and so there was never an element or a moment where we thought we were going to come together or anything like that. And then that’s what motor racing is all about. As he wanted to hold onto second, I wanted to get that second but it wasn’t meant to be today. So we just get our heads down and keep pushing and hopefully we’ll have some more battles moving forward.

Q: (Jake Boxhall-Legge – Autosport) Lando, obviously you didn’t perhaps want the Hard tyres later on the race but earlier the Medium stint was very, very good. You seem to be working well with the tyres all weekend. Is that something that has cropped up with a lot of these new upgrades or is that something that’s been present in the car all season?

LN: It’s definitely not been present in the car all season. Yeah, Bahrain was quite the opposite. These tracks allow us to look after the tyres well. Like I said we’re very, very competitive in high speed. We’re almost on par with what Red Bull could achieve and actually, I would say towards the medium speed like Turn 15 here, Stowe, I would say we’re close to being the best car on the grid. Super, super high speed like Turn 9, maybe not quite so much but that was in Qualifying and then when we come to the race we definitely maintain our performance when others seem to take a bit of a hit. And in doing so we can actually look after the tyres pretty well, especially when there’s no thermal limitation within tyre like there was necessarily today. But we do have a poor car and I say poor, I would say pretty terrible in the slow-speed corners, extremely difficult to drive. I feel if we’re getting excited and I accept that, but we’re going to go to a couple of tracks coming up where I’m sure people are going to be saying “what have you done now? Like, how has it got so bad all of a sudden.” So, we’ve improved a lot of things: tyre degradation, there’s always little things you try and do with tyre cooling and blah, blah, blah, but nothing big from that side. It’s just this track’s allowed us to look after the tyres nicely, keep them in a good condition. Simple as that. So a lot of it is track-specific. I don’t want to get too excited, but good things have come from the upgrade but there’s still plenty of things which are a miles away from, say, competing in certain places with a Mercedes and as a whole package competing even with a Red Bull. So a lot more work to be done from both of those areas.

Q: (Keith Collantine – Lewis, we just had a chance to hear from Toto and he was saying that at the moment they sent you out of the pits with Soft tyres on your car when Lando had Hard tyres on his car, he was convinced “we’d eat up the McLarens”, but obviously it was a bit more difficult to get past. How confident were you that you were going to be able to get past Lando? And when did it become clear that it wasn’t possible?

LH: Yeah, I mean, just knowing what it’s like to be on the Hards on the restart at the end with someone on the Softs behind, I knew that it would be difficult. I hadn’t, obviously, had any running with the McLarens. So I had no idea how strong they were earlier on in the stint, or in the race. And it wasn’t until that moment that I started to see some of their strengths and see them get stronger and stronger over the laps. So I threw it up the inside and I tried to get past. But we have a little bit more drag down the straights and then through the high speed, as I said, as he mentioned, that’s where they were just murdering us. So difficult, but it was fun for those first few laps. I wish we could have stayed in that close battle for many more laps, but it wasn’t meant to be. I look forward to hopefully having some more of those battles in the future.

Q: (Phil Duncan PA) Lando, at the beginning of the week you were talking about watching Lewis in ’07 and ’08 and obviously you reiterated it again there. Obviously, you’ve been around for a few seasons, but is it still a bit of a pinch-yourself moment that you’re going up against Lewis at the British Grand Prix and you’re racing for second?

LN: What did you say?

LH: How old were you? Eight?

LN: I was seven. Yeah, you’re pretty old, mate! Yeah, well, I was seven years old. I’d never been to a race in Formula 1 and 2017 was my first ever Formula 1 race that I went to. And I was here with McLaren. Until then, I’d only ever watched it on TV. So those times were, yeah. I mean, that was it, 2007 and 2008, seeing the beautiful team teamwork of Lewis and Fernando (laughs) reminds me of all of my relationships, my team-mates. So yeah, that is genuinely still what made me want to become a racing driver today and to be sitting here and to be fighting and being a Formula One driver. I guess little did I know that Lewis would still be here 15 years later and still going strong. So fair play to him. It’s an honour to be able to race with these guys who have created history and been some of the best drivers ever that have come through Formula 1. So, it is special and I guess I want to be someone who can join in on those battles and be part of all of this and create some of my own history. So it’s an honour, a privilege, I guess, in many ways and exciting at the same time.

(Adam Dickinson – Lewis, you seemed a bit more downbeat yesterday, but obviously came back to get the podium today. What do you think changed between then and now?

LH: Yeah, definitely yesterday was not the greatest feeling at the end. I think, ultimately, because we’d had a really bad race, obviously, in the previous week. And we knew we had an upgrade coming here, so we were all very hopeful of the step that we were going to hopefully try to take this weekend and bring us in closer and to our disappointment it didn’t take us that step, unfortunately, and for us to be sixth than seventh just, ultimately, wasn’t a great feeling. Just knowing how hard everyone’s worked, and everyone was feeling it in the team. But I think overnight just obviously you have to turn that negative feeling into a positive, which we often do and work on our positives, which is that we had good long run pace that showed on Friday, and just get your head down. Yeah, but after I went down to P9 at the start, I honestly didn’t feel too good either. But I had some fun trying to come back through. And hats off to the team for our strength on the race day. And as I said, I didn’t expect to be on the podium. So this is mega to be able to share with these guys.

Q: (Sam Cooper – – Max, you said earlier, it was confusing to have so many different people behind you every race. Is that something you think about? And is that a challenge to have drivers like Lando there, whereas in 2021 you had the one guy battling you every week? Is it something you think about, especially at the start of the race?

MV: Well, you can see a little bit of a picture on Friday. I was definitely positively surprised with the pace of the McLaren in the race that they were actually very quick compared to even, you know, the cars behind. But at the end of the day you just have to focus on yourself throughout the whole weekend and then you just find out anyway what happens behind you right? But yeah, positively surprised. Let’s see what the next race will bring again.

Q: (George Howson – F1 Chronicle) Lando, obviously a fantastic result for you today in second place, but Oscar as well, in fourth. How impressed were you with him today? And how huge a result is this for the team as well because you guys are ahead of Alpine now, I believe, in the Constructors championship?

LN: I feel for him to be honest. He should be sitting here. Like, you know, if things went to plan and there wasn’t a Safety Car. So it’s a bit of a shame. He deserved his first podium in Formula 1. I think it would have been amazing for us as team McLaren and celebrating our 60th anniversary and the Google Chrome livery, you know, all of these things, to share it, I think, would have been pretty special. And he deserves it. He’s been on top form all weekend. Yeah, he’s been pushing me an insane amount, which is a good thing. It’s raised the level of what we do as a team. But all year he’s been good. You know, it’s not like he’s just turned up here and been strong. He’s been good since day one in the car and makes my life tough sometimes. Yeah, I don’t always like it, but it’s a good thing at the end of the day, and it makes me a better driver, too. I feel for him and the team. We did everything we should have done to be P2 and P3. So it’s a shame he’s not sat here too, but yeah, he’ll have his chance. He’s driving very well. He’s doing a very good job. And if we can improve the car a little bit more, we can be here a lot more often. And I’m sure he’s going to have his fair few times of being here, too.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, at one point you came on the team radio saying you’d seen the Ferrari pit with Leclerc. That didn’t seem to knock you guys off your strategy. Could you just talk through that? And also did the Safety Car alter your strategy at all, either?

MV: Yeah, I just wanted to check in with the team. Make sure that they didn’t fall asleep! Yeah, I just saw the Ferrari pit and I was like: “So we just stick to our strategy, right?” “Yep, stick to the strategy.” “OK, let’s just get on with the job.” Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I mean, then of course, with the Safety Car. We would have probably pitted quite soon anyway. I still need to ask the team if we would have pitted onto a Soft or still on a Hard tyre, I don’t know, probably on the Soft, but maybe that’s why it’s good that the Safety Car came out and saved a few laps. But I don’t know at the moment.

Q: (Erwin Jaeggi – Max, you mentioned the upgrades for Hungary. What actually are the areas on the car you would still like to see improved?

MV: Drag, low speed, medium speed, high speed, DRS effect, tyre wear… All of these areas. That’s what we’re working on! Braking performance. Yeah, I’m not kidding.