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Miami Grand Prix F1 Sprint Race: Top three press conference

Full transcript from the top three finishers FIA-hosted Press Conference after the Miami Grand Prix Sprint Race, Round 6 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship. Featuring Sprint Race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), P2 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and P3 Sergio Perez (Red Bull).-30a8-5eea-5a29-79de2e72f318

Full transcript from the top three finishers FIA-hosted Press Conference after the Miami Grand Prix Sprint Race, Round 6 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship.

Featuring Sprint Race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), P2 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and P3 Sergio Perez (Red Bull).

Q: Max Verstappen. Congrats on another victory in this format. But talk us through it. It looked like the start may have been a little bit of a slow getaway. You had to really push Charles there into Turn 1. How tight was it between you two?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I think my engagement wasn’t good in the start. So then, of course, I had to squeeze him a bit. Luckily, everything worked out in Turn 1. Then, of course, we had the Safety Car just to calm things down a little bit. But after that, you know, steadily we could increase the gap a little bit. But it wasn’t entirely perfect. So we still have a bit of work to do. At least now with the new format, we can still fine tune the car a little bit. So hopefully we can improve it a little bit for later on in qualifying, and especially for tomorrow in the race. But the win is good. I’m happy with that. And it gives us a good few points to look at as well to improve.

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Q: Yeah, points are always nice to add to the card. Now look, we had a massive victory margin in the Sprint in China. It wasn’t quite as big. So what kind of information did you gather today that you can apply for the race tomorrow?
MV: Yeah, China felt really good. I mean, the car was really, really nice to drive. Here, it was a bit more difficult for me. So there are a few more things to improve.

Q: Well, the job’s only half done. Good luck in Miami qualifying this afternoon. Charles Leclerc, in the beautiful blue Ferrari this weekend. Great result, P2 in the Sprint. Lots of fans here in Miami cheering on Mr Leclerc. Why don’t you talk us through that start first? It looked like you got a great launch and really challenged Max into Turn 1.
Charles Leclerc: Yeah I had a quite a good start and then I was in the inside of Turn 1. Obviously I didn’t want to take too many risks because we’ve got also qualifying later on and if you have a crash in the Sprint then you probably don’t participate later on. So I tried to end it there. We both braked very very late with Max but eventually he got to keep the position and then I was pushing very hard but in the first three laps they had a bit more pace. Then we had a similar degradation, so tomorrow, it’s a long race, so qualifying will be important to be starting as much in front as possible, and then hopefully we can put them under pressure with the strategy.

Q: Well, let’s talk about Miami qualifying then. It’s coming up here. Job’s not done yet today, right? But you were so close yesterday. What was learned yesterday and maybe even a little bit today in the Sprint that you think you could apply to maybe fight for pole this afternoon?
CL: Yeah, it was obviously very close yesterday. Not many laps in FP1, so hopefully now with the Sprint race, I got a bit more laps around this track, and I hope we can target the pole position. So that’s the target. Then let’s see if we manage to achieve that.

Q: Alright, well, great race today. Best of luck this afternoon.
CL: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Q: Checo, P3 today. It looked like a bit of a quiet event for you. You got through the mess in Turn 1, and then it was sort of running your own race.
Sergio Perez: Yeah, it was really hard to get through Daniel in the beginning, and once I got through, I got through it quite quickly, but I was three seconds from Charles and given the short duration of the race, it was pretty tricky. I was like getting within two seconds, 1.8, but then it was quite hard to get a little bit closer. So anyway, let’s look forward for the rest of the weekend.

Q: Checo, when you come out here, one of the biggest cheers from the crowd. What’s it like racing here in Miami? You’ve got a ton of supporters. How about this crowd here today?
SP: The fans are amazing. It’s really nice to be here with all of them, and I really hope I can give them a great race of the weekend.

Q: How about qualifying? What do you think you got this afternoon?
SP: Yeah, I think we will be able to be strong, so I definitely look forward to it.

MIAMI GP SPRINT RACE PRESS CONFERENCE

Max Verstappen and Checo Perez bury their faces into towels after the 2024 Miami GP Sprint.

Q: Very well done, Max. That looked like a pretty straightforward race for you. How did it play out behind the wheel?
MV: Yeah, I think only the start wasn’t particularly great. But besides that, yeah, just looking after the tyres, not really knowing, of course, how they were going to last. Still not entirely happy with the balance of the car, so we need to look into that. Yeah, a bit too much oversteer, I would say. So we’ll try to fine-tune that no before qualifying, because I had the same problem yesterday in [Sprint] qualifying. So it definitely highlighted that what we have at the moment is probably not the best for quali and race. But nevertheless, we won the race, which I think is the most important. And we’ll try to just make it a bit more solid.

Q: How are the track conditions in Miami today?
MV: Yes, same as yesterday. I mean, hot, slippery, not much to add to it.

Q: Can we just throw it ahead to qualifying then this afternoon? Are you expecting a similar session to yesterday or do you think the soft tyre will be a little bit more performant?
MV: Yeah, I mean, I think the more laps that we can do on a new set every time, of course, I think it will all settle down a bit. I think this is something that in a Sprint qualifying, when you do two mediums and suddenly one Soft tyre sometimes it feels a bit weird because the two compounds always drive a bit different. and when you only have one shot at it and you make a mistake or the car is not in the right balance window, then you can have a horrible lap, which I find a bit of a shame. That’s why I prefer a bit more of a normal qualifying. You know, you have a few sets to really nail the lap and get used to the track conditions as well. So hopefully in the afternoon, it will all be a bit more normal.

Q: Very well done. Good luck this afternoon as well. Charles, very well done to you as well. Wheel-to-wheel with Max on the way down to Turn 1. Just talk us through the first 10 seconds of the race, first of all.
CL: Yeah, I had quite a good launch. Then I was in the inside of Max for Turn 1. We both braked, I think, very late… Too late! But we still managed to make the corner and eventually Max kept the track position. After that, it was all about… I was trying to stay within one second to get the DRS, especially after the first Safety Car, which we didn’t manage to do. And then we were in a position where it was actually very difficult to come back to Max. I think we had a bit of a tyre advantage. We had the new Mediums. So it’s going to be very important to try and obviously be in front in the qualifying this afternoon.

Q: After limited running in practice yesterday, the Sprint was your first long run of the Miami weekend. How was the car?
CL: OK. Obviously I don’t think anybody on the grid has an optimal set-up, because with the very few laps we do in FP1 and especially for me, as I’ve only done one, you’re always going a little bit into the unknown and anticipating also the track conditions throughout the weekend, as from the Friday to the Sunday it changes a lot. It’s always very difficult but I think we did a reasonably good job. We still have to change a few things for this afternoon to make it better. And hopefully it will pay off.

Q: Alright. Good luck with that. Thank you. Checo, coming to you now. You had a bit of work to do in the race to get past Daniel Ricciardo. How was your car?
SP: Yeah, I lost a place to Daniel at the start, basically trying to get Charles, but I think we all braked really late, and I just went deep into Turn 1. I ended up locking. So I lost the position to Daniel, nearly lost another position to Carlos, but in the end, we kept it together. And then right after the Safety Car, as soon as I could use DRS, I managed to get through Daniel. But then I was, I think, three seconds already from Charles. Given how short the race is, it was really game over. I tried at times. I was getting closer. But once I found, like, I was around 1.8 or so, it was quite hard to get a little bit closer. So, unfortunately the race was just a little bit too short. I think in these Sprint races, if you have the Safety Car, then it’s really hard to really do anything else.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR 

Featuring Sprint Race winner Max Verstappen (Red Bull), P2 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and P3 Sergio Perez (Red Bull).

Q: (Filip Cleeren – Motorsport.com) Charles, you already mentioned tyre deg is going to be crucial. You spent the entire race behind Max, so how do you evaluate your tyre deg and your pace compared to Max? Do you see any opportunities for tomorrow?
CL: I think we were quite similar on that. Maybe in the last two, three laps, Max had the upper hand and he pulled away a bit more. But apart from that, I was just struggling a little bit with the dirty air. Whenever I was getting within 1.8, 1.7, I would drop to 2.2, 2.3, and then I would come back a little bit. I was mostly struggling with dirty air. I think if I had the DRS on that first lap, we probably could have put him under a bit more pressure, but we didn’t. So we need to look into that tomorrow to try and make sure that we keep the DRS if we are behind and we pull away if we are behind from.

Q: (Taylor Powling – Motorsport Monday) Charles, you said that the turbulence by Max, you felt that not even within one second. Is that something that’s circuit-specific or kind of common with these cars? now and returning to pre-2022 levels?
CL: No, I think it’s always been the case, and I think also it’s very car-dependent. I think some teams are saying that it’s getting worse. For some reason, on my side, it actually feels a little bit better compared to last year to follow, but we still feel it. And especially when it’s all about tyre overheating, as soon as you are behind, you have a little bit less downforce, you slide a bit more, and then the overheating is getting worse and worse. So it’s not track-specific. I think it’s always been like that.

Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) It’s a question to Max. Yesterday, after FP1, you seemed at least relatively happy with the setup, at least that’s what Helmut Marko told me. Is there any explanation why your feeling was so different than in Miami Sprint qualifying and also in today’s Sprint race? And secondly, how much of a relief is it that you at least have two Parc Fermés now?
MV: Yeah, we changed a few things that we thought would be better, probably going into qualifying, and it didn’t work. So we’ll look into what we can improve now. And yeah, I mean, of course, that’s why I’m very happy with this new format, that at least you can make a few changes. Otherwise, you are stuck with it and basically it can ruin your weekend.

Q: (Sahil Kapoor – NBC Miami) A question for Max. With everything going on at Red Bull off track, clearly it hasn’t affected your performance and your racing on track. I’m curious, has it affected you personally? How have you managed to navigate this so well without any impact on performance? Do you have any doubt that’ll continue?
MV: I’m here to just race and try to win. Of course, it’s important to feel good and have a stable environment. We’re working on that and I’m sure that we can get that. So many things have been said. I’ve been literally answering these questions from March, Feb… End of Feb? I don’t even know what to say anymore about it. We just tried to focus as a team on the performance of the car. So far, it hasn’t impacted that, and I’m very happy for that.

Q: (Dan Lawrence – Motorsport Monday) Question for Max. We heard you on team radio complaining about the tyre deg and you were just saying earlier about complaining about the balance a little bit, but you still won by three seconds in that short Sprint race. Does that give you quite a lot of confidence going into tomorrow that if you can unlock that a little bit more, you can probably control proceedings even more and go for the win?
MV: Yeah, I hope this is worst case scenario, let’s say like that, because I didn’t really feel happy with the car. So there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. And hopefully we can find that already in qualifying. But I think nonetheless in qualifying, it’s always so tricky around here on this track to get the tyres to work over one lap. And even when you think that, you know, you nailed it, then you go out again with another tyre set, it’s still very hard to be consistent on it. So that is going to be the trickiest part, I think, of the weekend, to try and get right again in quali. And then, yeah, if we just naturally make the balance a bit better, then our deg will be better in the race. And then normally, yeah, we should be even more competitive.