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Formula One F1 - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria - June 30, 2024 Mercedes' George Russell celebrates on the podium after winning the Austrian Grand Prix along with second placed McLaren's Oscar Piastri and third placed Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Austrian Grand Prix: Top three Press Conference

Formula One F1 - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria - June 30, 2024 Mercedes' George Russell celebrates on the podium after winning the Austrian Grand Prix along with second placed McLaren's Oscar Piastri and third placed Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Full transcript from the top three FIA-hosted press conference after the Austrian Grand Prix, Round 11 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship, at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

Featuring race winner George Russell (Mercedes), P2 – Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and P3 – Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

Parc Ferme interviews conducted by David Coulthard

Q: Carlos Sainz, welcome. Another podium in your career and what was a fairly quiet weekend in terms of overall performance but it all came alive at the end there. Did you see the action ahead or were you just very much focused on bringing your car home?
Carlos Sainz: Yeah, quite an eventful race up front. For us it was all about trying to keep up with George. we knew the Mercedes today might have a bit of an advantage on race pace but we tried everything to keep up with him and Oscar, at the end, was coming really, really quick and in the end P3 which is I think a good result. I think we can be quite happy quite proud of that because this weekend hasn’t been easy for us and to come away with 15 points and a P3 is a good result.

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Q: We’re in the middle of this triple header. We’ve come off the back of your home Grand Prix. We have Silverstone in a week’s time. Can we expect a step forward in performance there? Because it didn’t really look that without the incident between Lando and Max that you would have been here on the podium today.
CS: Yeah, happy days for Formula 1 that there’s a bit of action up front and we’re getting to see some nice battles. Unfortunately for us, we are still coming off the back of a tough couple of races where we are not quite there to fight for the win yet, but we’re trying to do everything we can as a team to be back on form in Silverstone and in the upcoming races, to make sure next time we are up there to capitalise. And if not, podiums like these are always good news, and we will keep pushing flat out to stay in the fight.

Q: Okay, well, we look forward to seeing that big push. Well done on the podium.
CS: Thank you.

Q: As we move on to our second-place finisher, who must be thinking, what could have been? It all became undone even before you started the Austrian Grand Prix with that qualifying penalty for track limits? 
Oscar Piastri: Yeah, there’s a lot of what-ifs and maybes. Yeah, obviously starting from yesterday, but yeah. I know it’s only my fourth podium in F1, but, yeah, so close to a win, it hurts a little bit, but really good points, obviously. I think the second half of the race we were coming on pretty strong, and happy with another podium. Just when it’s that close, you can’t help but hurt a little bit.

Q: Well, you can carry that momentum, hopefully, onto your [McLaren’s] home Grand Prix in a week’s time at Silverstone.
OP: Yeah, not my home Grand Prix, but McLaren’s home Grand Prix. Yeah, obviously it was a place of good memories from last year, and hopefully we can be up the front again. Obviously, I haven’t seen what happened with Lando and Max, but clearly it was pretty even up the front, and yeah, I think we’re well and truly in the mix. Silverstone’s a track I always enjoy. Team’s home race, so excited for what’s to come.

Q: Okay, well, good points today. Congratulations.
OP: Thank you very much.

Q: And ladies and gentlemen, our Austrian Grand Prix winner, celebrating his second Grand Prix win, George Russell.
George Russell: Yeah, incredible. It was a tough fight out there at the beginning of the race, just to hold on to that P3, and I saw on the TV that Max and Lando were going pretty hard. I knew Lando would want to try and get that race win, but, you know, the team have done an amazing job to get us in this fight. You’ve got to be there at the end to pick up the pieces, and that’s where we were.

Q: Amazing. So you were watching the big screens, minding your own business and your own Grand Prix, while watching that battle out front, willing to happen what actually happened.
GR: Yeah, they were going for it. And I couldn’t believe actually how close we were to Lando and Max. I think we were only about 12, 13 seconds behind. I knew it was a possibility. You’re always dreaming, but as I said, just so proud to be back on the top step. The team have worked so hard. We’ve made so many strides since the start of the season. So, yeah, the last three races have been incredible, so more to come.

Q: Now, look, you’ve done everything to make sure you were in that position. The other two looked like they had the overall pace today had they not had the contact. But all you can do is drive your car and put yourself in the position that you have to then capitalise. So you must be really proud with this, your second Grand Prix victory.
GR: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s no secret Red Bull with Max and McLaren with Lando are still a little bit out in front, but we’re always putting ourselves in that third place position the last couple of races. And obviously, if anything happens up front, we’re there to pick it up. But, you know, just really proud of everybody. And, you know, what an exciting time for us.

Q: And, George, we’re one week away from the British Grand Prix. That would be nice to carry this momentum towards another podium there.
GR: Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re riding a bit of a wave at the moment. These last three races have been incredible. I think realistically we probably could have won the race in Canada, so this probably makes up for one too many mistakes on my side there, and just really proud to be back on the top step.

2024 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX PRESS CONFERENCE 

2024 AUSTRIAN GRAND PRIX PRESS CONFERENCE 

Q: George, very well done to you. What a moment. It was perhaps unexpected, but what does this Austrian Grand Prix win mean to you?
GR: Yeah, it feels really great to be honest. These last three races as a team, we’ve really turned it up. I feel that Montreal was probably a victory that we missed out on and we ended up finishing P3. Today was a deserving P3 and we got the victory. So it’s funny how this sport turns around and just credit to all the team for all the hard work they’ve done. Such huge progress since the start of the year.

Q: This is also a racetrack that brings out the best in you. You’re the first driver to win here in GP3, Formula 2 and now Formula 1.
GR: Yeah, there we go. Yeah, it’s a track I enjoy. The last couple of years have been very difficult for us as a team. And we didn’t have high expectations going into this weekend. But we ended up qualifying P3 yesterday. And we’ve been in that mix. And as I said, we were fighting for the podium. I think realistically, we still probably have the third quickest car behind Red Bull and McLaren. But the last three races, Lewis and I have been in that P3 spot. So, you know, we’re really getting the most out of it. And sometimes, racing, it goes your way.

Q: Well, can we delve into the race now and perhaps start before the lights had even gone out? Going to the grid, you were expressing some concerns over the radio. How was the car, first of all?
GR: It was very windy out there, and I think the car was feeling a little bit strange. On my laps to grid, we checked everything, and everything was fine. But the pace felt strong. I had Lewis attack me early in the race, but then once I got back past him, I got a bit of a gap to Carlos. I knew Oscar was going to be quick, and he sort of came a little bit out of nowhere towards the end of the race on those Hard tyres. For me it was pretty difficult. And then suddenly I had Toto screaming in my ear, ‘you can win this’. And I almost crashed when he screamed into my ears. It was that loud. But I think it just goes to show the passion that we all share. And it’s obviously been a tough couple of years for us. It feels great to be back on the top step.

Q: You were slightly offset strategically. You ran the medium tyre in the middle of the race. How much did that help you in the closing battle with Oscar to be on the hard tyre?
GR: I don’t think it helped at all, to be honest. I think it’s difficult. I think we split the strategies with Lewis just to try something. You never know how the race is going to pan out. And VSC, Safety Cars have a big factor. That VSC at the end was quite handy for me. It allowed me to cool my tyres down and then my pace against Oscar. The last five laps was the same when he had the medium. So, you know, the car’s been feeling really good. We know we’ve got a little bit of work still to do if we want to consistently be in that fight for the podium. But looking at the steps we’ve made versus Ferrari, versus Aston Martin, it’s been pretty huge since Bahrain.

Q: And in terms of execution, was this the best weekend that you and the team have had so far this year?
GR: Yeah, without doubt. I think we really executed everything really well. I think every session we maximised, qualified as high as we think was truly possible. Race starts have been good. P4 in the race yesterday was the maximum. P3 realistically was the maximum and the deserving result today. You know, the team did a great job. So it’s nice when you get a reward for all that hard work.

Q: And what a result to take into your home race at Silverstone next weekend. Do you dare to dream about a repeat on home soil?
GR: You always dare to dream for sure. Anything can happen. I think Red Bull were really quick this weekend in the high-speed corners. So they’re going to look pretty strong next week in Silverstone. But we’ve got a few days between now and then. I’ll be on the simulator on Tuesday back at the factory. So I’m really excited for that one.

Q: Alright, George, very well done to you. Thank you very much. Oscar, let’s come to you now. P7 to P2 is a tremendous result for you. How pleased are you with the Austrian Grand Prix drive you put in today?
OP: Yeah, I think mostly happy. I think the first stint didn’t make quite as much progress as I would have liked. Obviously had a bit of an incident in Turn 1. And then, yeah, just overheated the tyres a little bit. And with the dirty air, it was so hard to get within a second. So, yeah, didn’t make much progress there. But then the next two stints, it really started to come alive. Went a bit longer on both the pit stops and turns. Yeah, just kind of felt like we needed some more laps towards the end, unfortunately. But no, after starting seventh, obviously a good turnaround. Yeah, pretty happy.

Q: A little bit of frustration about the track limits yesterday in qualifying?
GR: Yeah, definitely, I mean, I was pretty upset yesterday that, you know, there are so many corners, we’ve made changes on the track here to get rid of the track limits issue. But this one corner, for some reason, we moved the white line, but not enough. But at the end of the day, I went slightly outside and that’s the mistake on me, or that’s what it was. But after seeing the evidence on what I got my lap deleted for coming from a chopper cam that was only on me, in pretty questionable resolution, that stung quite a lot. So I had a bit of fire in me going into the race. So I think some of my overtakes probably came from a bit further back than maybe they would have otherwise.

Q: Well, Oscar, a couple of moments to talk to you about. First of all, you mentioned that contact with Charles Leclerc at Turn 1 just after the start. Talk us through that incident and was there any damage to your car as a result?
OP: Yeah, I didn’t get the best of starts, but saw a bit of an opening on the outside and then, yeah, went nice and late on the brakes. I couldn’t really see where Checo went on the inside, but I didn’t think he was really that far up alongside Charles, but obviously all three of us kind of met at the apex. So, yeah, quite fortunate for myself. I think there was a little bit of damage, but I don’t think anything major. Had a bit more contact with Checo again a bit later in the lap. So, yeah, it was an eventful race.

Q: And what about the battle with Carlos in the closing laps? Nice move around the outside from you.
OP: Yeah, Turn 6 was a happy hunting ground this weekend. I think I did three moves there around the outside. Yeah, very, very close on the way into Turn 4. And then, yeah, just had a bit more grip around the outside of 6 and managed to get it done. So, yeah, pretty happy with that.

Q: And, Oscar, what about Silverstone coming up next weekend? How do you see the lay of the land going into the team’s home race?
OP: I think obviously last year was an incredible weekend for us as a team, kind of the start of our resurgence. Like George said, Max was pretty impressive in the high-speed corners yesterday. So, you know, obviously bodes well for them at Silverstone. But I think we’ve got a strong car and I think we’ve had a really consistent car wherever we’ve gone. You know, we maybe had some small question marks about whether we would be as competitive when we went back to, say, a more traditional circuit like Barcelona or here, where there’s some more high-speed corners compared to Canada and Monaco. But we’ve had a really consistent car wherever we’ve gone. So I think we can be pretty confident we’ll be in the fight.

Q: Alright. Good luck with that. Well done today. Carlos, coming to you now. Very well done to you as well. You’ve had a very positive Austrian Grand Prix weekend. Do you feel that you and Ferrari have maximised the package?
CS: Yeah, I think so. I think there was not much more in it this weekend. I think we did a good job yesterday in qualifying and in the sprint. And today, we set our targets in trying to beat the Mercedes. We managed to beat one, even if one of them got ahead. And then I was behind the two of them, passed Lewis, and then it was all about trying to keep up with George. But like we saw yesterday in the sprint, it just looked like they had this half a tenth to a tenth of pace advantage. That it’s these three, four, five seconds that he was in front the whole race. And yeah, I thought that was a battle for a podium, which he was going to win. And in the end, it became a battle for a win eventually. Yeah, we tried everything we could, but we know we’ve been struggling the last few races. And yeah, at the moment, Mercedes are a little bit quicker than us.

Q: As you say, you’ve been struggling for the last few races. Is this weekend proof that Ferrari are now back on an even keel with this car, that you know how to maximise it?
CS: I think, if anything, it just proves that the last two weekends haven’t been easy. We’ve been always the first Ferrari finishing behind the first Mercedes. Even if you count Canada, you could argue those three weekends in a row. So I think Red Bull and McLaren were in a league of their own this weekend. Then there was a step. There was George and me battling for that P3, P4. And yeah, that was not the situation at the beginning of the year. So it shows that we need to work hard. We need to understand what’s happened the last couple of races. And once we understand it, hopefully already for Silverstone, we can bring a step and improve our performance.

Q: Talk to us a little bit more about Silverstone. You say you hope you can make a step there. What does that mean? if you can do that?
CS: Well, I see the factory pushing flat out, you know, to understand the troubles that we’ve hit in the last couple of weekends and trying to bring already for Silverstone a package that allows us to perform a bit better in the high-speed corners because it’s clearly been our weakness. Yesterday, Max was so much quicker through there, but not only Max, also Mercedes and McLaren were a clear step ahead of us in those type of corners. And we know Silverstone is the king of the high speed, so we need to do a step. Obviously, we want to be competitive there. And we are going to fight everything we can and try to find everything we can, sorry, to make ourselves more competitive there.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Austrian Grand Prix: Top three Press Conference race start

Q: (Diletta Colombo – Automoto.it) A question for Carlos. Was bouncing in the high-speed corners an issue in the Austrian Grand Prix? And if so, do you think it’s upgrade-related?
CS: In the race, it’s less of a problem because you carry less speed into those high-speed corners. The car rolls less and you have less bouncing as a consequence. But yeah, obviously, if you have it in quali, you have to set up the car differently for qualifying and then probably you pay the price in the race. So yeah, it’s not an ideal situation. It doesn’t make you good in quali and it doesn’t make you good in the race. We have been talking a lot about bouncing the last couple of weekends, which shows that it’s been a bit of an issue, but I believe there’s also other things that we need to improve in order to at least beat Mercedes in Silverstone and try to get back closer to McLaren and Red Bull.

Q: (Marco Canseco – Marca) Question for Carlos. You are only points 15 behind Charles with a race less. Is one of your main targets to beat him along the season?
CS: Yeah, I feel like you guys look a lot at this, obviously, the championship. Obviously, since I missed the race in Jeddah, I am trying not to focus on the championship standings because I’m basically competing with these guys, having done a race less. So I’m focusing more on trying to get the podiums, trying to get the wins, trying to get the highlights, rather than on the championship because it’s not easy to compete against the best guys in the world, going up against them with one race less in the season. But yeah, so far, I think I’ve done five podiums out of ten races, one race win. It’s a very good statistic. I think I’m driving well this year. And yeah, I’m focusing on enjoying the opportunities that I have this year to fight for podiums that I might not have them next year. So I’m going to give everything and enjoy these opportunities and these moments like today in the podium.

Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) A question for George, please. George, yesterday you said that you’d let it play out a little bit between Max and Lando, which worked out alright. What was your immediate reaction when you saw those two coming into view ahead of you? What were the engineers saying to you on the radio before Toto came over?
GR: I was just trying to focus on just maximizing my driving, to be honest. Marcus, my engineer, said three laps before, they’re fighting really hard and we can win this. And I said, look, we need to sort of secure P3 first, let me drive. And I knew Oscar was fast behind. And then when I got into the lead, I knew it was going to be a challenging last six laps. My tyres were difficult. That VSC helped marginally because my tyres were overheating. And that just allowed me to cool them down. Yeah, it’s a bit of a strange one to win a race like this, for sure. But as I said, it’s racing. Sometimes it goes against you and I feel like we’ve probably missed out on one or two possibilities of victories. Montreal was won, arguably Singapore, things could have gone very slightly differently last year, and today it went for us. So it’s how the cookie crumbles.

Q: (Isabelle Barker – The Sun) George, how do you plan on celebrating? I assume no two-day benders because you’re back into work on Tuesday.
GR: Yeah, I’m back home tonight. I’ve got my girlfriend waiting for me back home and one of my good friends there too. So I’m flying back with Fernando. Hopefully, he’s not left me here already because I’ve been pretty busy with media this evening. But, for sure, I mean, my first victory, I was right onto a flight for 15 hours from Sao Paulo to Dubai. Hoping to be back this evening before 10 o’clock maybe. And, yeah, I want to celebrate it because you can’t take these moments for granted. I feel that I’ve got a lot left in me and a lot more victories to come in the future but in an era of total dominance by one team and driver, any victory by any other driver, you need to enjoy it. But it won’t be as hard as Lando’s celebration. If it’s 50% as hard as Lando’s celebration, it will be a pretty massive night.

Q: (Mark Ivanov – Avto+ŠportQuestion for all of you, for all of three. How hard was it in the last few laps when all of you saw that you can finish on the podium and how hard was the focus for all of you?
GR: I think the difficulty was we were approaching a lot of back markers and we were interacting a lot with them. And if you get fortunate with the position, you get the DRS into Turn 1 and then into Turn 3 and into Turn 4 and you can gain six tenths. If you’re unfortunate, you could maybe lose six tenths. So you could have a 1.2 second difference just on where you catch the back markers and when there was only two seconds between Oscar and I, that was probably the most nerve wracking. But yeah, nothing more really to say than that.

Q: George, how concerned were you about Oscar in those closing laps?
GR: I thought he was going to catch me, to be honest, but I think catching is one thing, overtaking is another. So I had Carlos behind me for 10 laps yesterday in my DRS, and I was also behind Carlos for about eight laps in his DRS, and overtaking wasn’t straightforward. So I knew, I just sort of said to myself, do what you do best, no heroics, and you’ll win this race.

Q: Oscar?
OP: Yeah, I mean, I was more or less trying to do a similar thing, I guess, trying to get back to the podium. You know, I felt like that would have been a good result from where we started. And then, yeah, obviously when you’re in contention for a win, yeah, things change a little bit. In terms of what you need to do on track it’s exactly the same. You try and focus on what’s ahead and you’re just trying to drive as fast as possible especially with only five or six laps to go. So I tried my best. I think I went off a couple of times trying to catch George but I can’t say I didn’t try.

Q: Carlos? 
CS: I think I was virtually P2 at the time when everything, or sorry, I was P4 at the time, which was virtually P2. So I didn’t feel like it was a lot going on. And then suddenly they told me on the radio about the incident with Max and Lando, that made me feel like I was obviously P2. At the time, I felt like I was catching George a little bit, but I was just not quite quick enough to… I had two little laps left to go for it. And on the other hand, I had a very fast Oscar coming behind. So yeah, once I knew it was a podium, it was obviously very difficult to judge the level of risk that you can take, especially because Oscar was just quite a big step quicker than us this weekend. And yeah, it was almost impossible to keep him behind. Yeah, I had to kind of settle for the P2, P3 and live with it.

Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) A question for Carlos, please. Apologies for asking this, but it’s about your future. Obviously, you’ve got a few options on the table for next season. It does appear that a couple of the teams are getting a little bit impatient, let’s say. Does that put any pressure on you to kind of make a decision imminently? Or do you feel like you’ve got time to do it? Thank you.
CS: As I said before, for sure that pressure, I’m not going to receive it on a Sunday afternoon after a podium we are keen to enjoy. As I said before, I think it’s sometimes, like George was saying, we take it for granted when we’re on one of these podiums, celebrating, wearing a Ferrari suit, and I was thinking, try to enjoy this moment because who knows when it’s going to be the next time in the future. So as much as maybe there are some teams that are nervous or pressuring me, it’s time for me also to enjoy this moment of being on a podium. And I’m going to be honest and straightforward with the teams, but it’s such an important decision for me also that I’m going to take all the time that I need to take it. And if there’s teams that cannot wait or are a bit impatient, I cannot do anything about it. It’s going to be my future, my decision, and I’m going to try and be as honest as possible with everyone and give myself the time that I need.