British Grand Prix Qualifying: Top Three Press Conference

British Grand Prix Qualifying: Top Three Press Conference

British Grand Prix Qualifying: Top Three Press Conference

Full transcript from the FIA hosted top three press conference after Qualifying for the British Grand Prix, Round 12 of the 2024 Formula 1 World Championship, at Silverstone.

Parc ferme interviews conducted by David Coulthard featuring the top three in the Qualifying session in Silverstone: P1 George Russell (Mercedes), P2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), and P3 Lando Norris (McLaren).

Track Interviews Conducted by David Coulthard

Q: Lando Norris, third on the grid for tomorrow’s race. I saw you talking to Sir Jackie Stewart there. Still smiling, but I suspect a little bit of frustration because it looked like you were the man laying down the lap times.


Lando NORRIS: I was until the end, but no, I’m happy with the P3. Three Brits lock out of the top three, so pretty cool here. No, good laps by George and Lewis both. They did an excellent job. They put in some nice laps and a little mistake on my part at the end, but P3 is still good.

Q: Well, it’s great to hear you’re happy with that. You’ll be aiming to make the sort of start you did last year, so it’s still all to play for.

LN: No, 100%. And it’s going to rain again tomorrow, so I’m excited. It’s going to be a good race. We’re quick. I can bring the fight to George and I can bring the fight to Lewis, so excited to put on a good show tomorrow.

Q: you have a knowing smile. so this battle for McLaren is not over.

LN: No I’m excited. We’re going to have some… I hope we’re going to have some good battles, so I look forward to it.

Q: OK, Lando congratulations. On to the forever young Lewis Hamilton. Congratulations on your second place The crowd showing their appreciation, Lewis. Did you really think you could pull that lap at the end? It’s an incredible 1-2 for Mercedes.

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, well, first off, a big, big thanks to this incredible crowd. We’re so proud to be here. Three Brits in the top three is incredible. And a huge congratulations to George. He did such a great job. We definitely didn’t expect to be front row this weekend, but this is huge for us, for our team. The car felt fantastic out there. And so everyone in the garage here, all our team that have come here really deserve this.

Q: It was a hugely challenging qualifying session. You had the wet, with the Intermediates at the start. There were people going off. any particular standout moment apart from that beautiful lap for you was there a point where you were thinking ‘oh, I’m up against it’.

LH: No, no, no., As I said, the car felt great. It was just about getting the tyre temperatures at the right place and you know sealing the deal when you had the time on track. So I think I was able to do that. I think ultimately there was still time left on the table, which George was able to find. But I feel really confident about the car tomorrow and I think with the conditions we have we can work together to keep Lando behind.

Q: OK, well, Lewis, congratulations on getting in the top three and second place here at Silverstone. And finally… George Russell, you’re in pole position at the British Grand Prix.

George RUSSELL: Come on! What a feeling, what a feeling. At the start of this year, I don’t think we could have even dreamt of being on pole here. And, you know, a one-two, for Lewis and I, Lando in P3. This is just mega. It’s down to all these fans as well. They give us so much energy. So, yeah, thank you so much for that.

Q: Six days ago, you took the victory. Here you are taking the pole. Lewis was saying the car’s been feeling great, so he’s not surprised that it’s a 1-2. But I didn’t realise, looking through the free practice, that you guys could really take it to the McLaren.

GR: The car at the moment is feeling so, so good. It really came alive in quali, and honestly, what a joy to drive around this circuit. And, you know, we’re riding this wave at the moment, absolutely buzzing, but eyes on tomorrow. We’ve got a race to win, and it’s going to be tight with Lando. Max is going to be fast as well, but I’m so excited right now.

Q: Lewis has spoken in the past about the power of the crowd driving him forwards. Are you picking up that mantle and taking some of that energy?

GR: The crowd give us all so much energy, the three of us. I don’t think Silverstone could have dreamt of the three Brits in the top three. So, honestly, the support, we just absolutely love it and we can’t wait for the race tomorrow.

Press Confernce

Q: Many congratulations, George. What a performance by you and Mercedes. You won in Austria last weekend. You’re on pole here at home. Just how good does this feel?

GR: Yeah, this is definitely one of the best feelings I’ve ever had on a Saturday afternoon. The car was just insane. When we went out in Q3, it just really came alive and without doubt, one of the best feelings I’ve ever had driving this circuit and crossing the line, seeing my name in P1, and then seeing we’re both on the front row. We couldn’t have even dreamt of that after the first three or four races. Yeah, it feels good.

Q: Have you been surprised by the pace of the car today?

GR: It’s been feeling great since Canada when we brought these upgrades. You know, the two of us have been qualifying in the top three consistently, but it really came into its own today. We were really quick in FP1 yesterday. We struggled in FP2 a little bit, but these conditions just really got the car into a perfect window, and the lap was just really, really nice, and there’s no guarantees for tomorrow, for sure but we feel like we’re riding this wave at the moment. And, I mean, obviously, for us as a team, I don’t know when the last time was. we were on a front row. But, you know, 2021? Maybe before.

Q: George, you say that last lap in Q3 was really, really nice. Just where did you find the time over that first run in Q3?

GR: From Turn 6 to Turn 9, I gained a lot. Turn 6 and 7 were mega. There’s a big headwind through there so I braked really, really late and I just could carry the speed through the corners. But it was just on rails, the car. I just felt so confident in it. Q3, we really turned it up because Q1 and Q2 were very, very challenging. I felt like I was about to get knocked out at various points. The track improved in every single lap. And probably going into Q3 was the most pressure I’ve ever felt in a qualifying session because the whole Q1 and Q2 runs, it was like on the verge of getting knocked out every single occasion. And I wasn’t feeling that confident with myself. But as soon as I went through Turn 1 and 2 in Q3, I felt good and managed to do the laps.

Q: Well, George, let’s throw it forward to the race. With practice being so affected by the weather, just how much confidence do you have in the long-run pace of the car?

GR: Yeah, I think. realistically we know we’re probably a tenth or two behind Lando and Max, but I think we’ve got a good fight on our hands. But the weather’s going to play a huge part in that. You know, it’s been raining and drying up throughout the last couple of days. There’s a bit of rain on the forecast tomorrow. We’re probably on course for another Montreal-style race where it’s going to be very changeable. So it’s going to be a long race. As I said, we’re riding this wave right now, but it doesn’t mean anything because tomorrow is where the points are scored. But we’re obviously in a great position to fight for victory.

Q: Alright, look, best of luck. Well done today. Lewis, let’s come to you now. An 11th front-row start at Silverstone for you. Just tell us about the session from your point of view.

LH: It was a great session. Naturally, the best session that we’ve had as a team to just have the real pace and be able to actually compete with the McLarens and the Red Bulls, I think is incredibly satisfying, just really a huge boost for the team. And the car felt great, as George was saying, a huge congratulations to George for getting the pole. But to be on the front row, I think, is massive for our team. So many of them are here this weekend with their families. And it’s been a long time since we’ve had it. So this is a great feeling.

Q: How was the build-up of the session through Q1 and Q2 from your point of view?

LH: It’s pretty straightforward for me, to be honest. I mean, when it’s wet, that’s when I’m probably the happiest. So I’m super confident in those first conditions. That was the easiest part for me, I would say. And then it got a little bit harder once we got to Q3, just a bit with balance. But nonetheless, as I said, I’m super grateful to be here.

Q: Alright. And Lewis, just throwing it forward to the race, do you have belief in the long-run pace of the car?

LH: Well, I think I was cautious with my set-up, more thinking to have a nice balance in the race rather than all for one particular lap. So I do think that the car will be good tomorrow, yeah.

Q: Alright. Best of luck. Thank you very much. Lando, coming to you now. You said a little earlier that you’re happy with the car. Just tell us, first of all, what happened on that final lap of Q3.

LN: I just ran wide out of Turn 14 and that was it.

Q: Without that, do you think pole was in the offing for you today?

LN: No, I was already a tenth-and-a-half down, so it’s tough. I think, you know, George and Lewis have done a great job for the two cars to be up there. Shows that the team are also doing an amazing job. It was super close. I think if I put in a good enough lap, it was close and within a bit of a fight. But, no, they’ve seemed very quick all weekend since FP1, like George said, so there or thereabouts, but I just didn’t deliver it today.

Q: Lando, are you surprised by the pace of Mercedes here?

LN: No.

Q: Okay. Well, look, throwing it forward to the race then…

LN: It’s a simple question!

Q: Throwing it forward to the race. Are you expecting them to be your main challenger tomorrow?

LN: Yeah, I think even if you look at last year, Mercedes were probably one of the quickest in the race. If not potentially the quickest. So I expect them to be very quick tomorrow, especially as they can look after their front tyres very well. They have a very good front end. And I think that’s going to be a good saviour for them tomorrow. But again, like George said, the conditions are going to be tricky. But we’re there. We’ve been very quick in the races over the last two months. It’s probably been one of our strengths. It’s been actually race pace over quali pace. But this is a very different type of circuit. It’s a very different layout. But it’s still a strength. And hopefully it comes back towards us a little bit tomorrow.

Questions from the floor

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A question to George, please. Actually, a couple of questions. Just going back to that last lap in Q3, I think you started off a little bit slower through the first couple of corners. It was slower at the end of the first sector, but then purple by the end. So can you just explain what was going on at the beginning there? And also, you mentioned the struggles Q1, Q2. Did the car change much ahead of Q3 for that big transformation?

GR: The wind picked up on that last lap and you had a bit more of a tailwind through Turns 3 and 4. So I think a few of us were brown in that first sector, but then suddenly you picked up so much more downforce through Turn 6 and 7 and in the last corner as well when you’re going into the wind. So that was probably… the reason for it. But no, Q1 and Q2, we were just not trying to use our new Soft tyres to allow us to have the two new sets for Q3. And I think we’ve also saved one set of new Softs for the race tomorrow. So the Soft is a potential race tyre. So when you’ve got cars that are slightly slower than you throwing tyres at it, you’re just always on that back foot. And that was kind of the reasoning for it. Yeah, the track dried up. We got into the groove, and the lap times came.

Q: (Niharikia Ghorpade – Sportskeeda) Lando, you start on second row with Max. How important is it going to be to have a clean start? And when it comes to the race, we saw in Canada that it was a bit of the pit stop strategy where you lost out to Red Bull. So how much of a threat is Red Bull to you? And given that they’re on the back foot, how confident are you going into the race and executing it properly?

LN: I’m sure Max is going to be racing us tomorrow, but I’ve still got two other guys I’ve got to worry about, so I don’t care just about Red Bull. I think our strategy has been very good over the last two months, so I’m happy. The team are doing a good job and therefore I’m confident we can execute a good race. We need good pace. We need to be able to race well. I need to pass two guys if that’s going to be on the cards. So, yeah, confident from what we know and what we’ve seen over the last few races that we can go forwards.

Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Lewis, with the Mercedes performing like that, end of last year, do you think would you be in Ferrari next year? Do you think you will be in Ferrari next year performing, if you had last year the car you are having now?

LH: Yes.

Q: (Fred Ferret – l’Equipe) A question to the three of you. Do you have an explanation why the Brits are so good in Formula 1?

LH: Roast dinners.

LN: It can’t be. I don’t have roast dinner.

LH: No?

LN: Maybe that’s why I’m not on pole. I’ve got more than George. I mean, I think we grew up in these conditions. I think Q3 was just completely dry, but I think through the whole of this weekend, between the three of us, we’ve probably been, on average, the quickest. We always enjoy these conditions, similar to Canada. The three of us were up there being amongst the quickest again. Yeah, definitely growing up in I think just a very competitive… I think England is the most competitive kind of area to grow up in. Then kind of more Europe-based, but weather and just competitiveness of growing up and having the most competitive upbringing and competitiveness was the main thing.

GR: Yeah, I think, like Lando said, just grassroots probably, in the UK, is the most advanced for motorsport. And we’re so fortunate to have so many great drivers. And you just push one another along that journey. And I think also so many great British drivers in the past have inspired the youngsters to get into racing.

Q: (Simon Abberley – Nevis Radio) George and Lewis, you said on Thursday you weren’t too sure if you had the car for this weekend. Obviously, you’re doing quite well with where you’re sat just now. With that in mind and the changeable conditions for tomorrow, have you maybe geared your car more towards the rain? Or is this something that you thought could be potentially possible on Thursday but weren’t too sure about playing your cards out to the media yet?

GR: I think, if anything, we actually geared up slightly more for the race, which is normally a trade-off you’d always take. You can qualify P4 and get into the lead on lap one, or vice versa. It feels so great for us to be here now, but the race start, things can change very quickly. So we’d always sort of gear it up slightly more for the race. But yeah, I mean, nothing’s changed since last weekend, and the car’s been performing so well here. So you need to look into it and try and understand why it’s been so good, especially in these high-speed corners, because in Austria, Red Bull were miles ahead of everybody. And at the moment, we’ve been the quickest. So yeah, it’s a difficult sport sometimes.

LH: I completely forgot what the question was. What was it? Well, I said that earlier on. But we’d set the car up pretty much exactly the same, whether it’s wet or dry. It’s just all about optimising the aero package.

GR: Yeah, thanks for that question. You know, it’s… we’re all racers, we’re pushing the limits. I said after Montreal, my sort of risk reward dial was turned up to the max and that sort of played against me at certain points. And just remembering that the race is won right at the end. It doesn’t matter what happens beforehand. So yeah, that was a good learning for me. We still came away with a podium, but every single scenario is so different. Today, for example, in qualifying, it was raining in just three corners. And the rest of the track was bone dry, but those two corners, three corners, people were going off the track. So very, very challenging.

Q: (Kieran Jackson – The Independent) Lewis, you’ve won here eight times. The guys alongside you haven’t won at Silverstone before. Do you think that experience could really help you tomorrow, particularly if it rains like it did in 2008? Is there a lot you can take from that race so many years ago, but in similar conditions perhaps tomorrow?

LH: All the experiences definitely help and count. As I said, when it’s wet, that’s the conditions I was perhaps most comfortable in. But these two have also driven very well in the wet also, so I don’t think it’s going to make a difference.

Q: (Carlo Platella – A question for the Mercedes drivers. How different is this car to drive compared to a couple of months ago?

GR: I think we’ve made some small changes, which have had a big impact. We knew from the start of this year, the baseline of this car is substantially better than what we’ve had in previous years. But we went from having an oversteer car last year, then to an understeer car this year. And now we’ve just dialled it back and found the happy medium. When you’ve got the balance in a good place, the tyre temperatures are in the right window, and the lap time just really snowballs positively. It hasn’t been a substantial change, but it’s made a massive difference to the lap time.

LH: Massive difference.

Q: Where is it different?

LH: Everywhere. It’s just better everywhere. From Bahrain, for example, the car felt terrible, and the progress that we made in terms of dialling and fine-tuning the car to optimise the aero package. This team has never struggled to add performance, but where particularly they put that performance has always been, with this generation of car, has been a big question and where we’re getting the downforce from. So, yeah, but now they’ve done an amazing job, the engineers back at the factory. But, you know, look, it’s… We’d definitely take it today, but these guys are still… Red Bull, particularly Max, and the McLarens are very, very, very fast. And in some ways, you know, you saw in the last race, they were quite a bit ahead of us. So I’m hoping that tomorrow, with the conditions, we can hold our own.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Another question to Lewis, please, just on rather a different subject. The Apple movie, again, is doing lots of filming at Silverstone, as it was last year. I just wondered, can you give us any update on what you’ve seen and how it’s going? And also, what’s your thoughts on the film simply being titled, nice and simple, F1?

LH: There’s not really anything else I can add that I haven’t already said. I think Joe and Jerry and the whole crew are so grateful to be here and have been incredibly respectful of this space and have been very, very thoughtful. Some people just go out and go about it their own way, but they’ve been really wanting to make sure that the heritage is very much in this movie. And so I think people… You know, the trailer is coming out soon. So I’m looking forward to people seeing that. And what else? The title. I mean, it’s probably… Well, what else are you going to call it? You know, I think it would distract from what the series is, so I like it.

Q: (Taylor Powling – Motorsport Monday) Question to George and Lando. With a mixed conditions race possible tomorrow, will you be encouraging your teams to review what happened in Canada to make sure you nail those changing conditions if they do occur?

GR: I mean, yeah, absolutely. But as I said before, it was so difficult in Canada. You know, on the grid, I increased my tyre pressures because rain was meant to hit in 20 minutes time, which is about 12 to 15 laps, and it hit in 40 minutes. And then that’s, you know, Lando was 10 seconds behind us and then ended up 10 seconds ahead of us and clearly was low on tyre pressure. So if the rain hit when it did, we would have been in a good place. As it turned out, Lando was in the right place. So we can do all the reviewing we want. The fact is it’s very, very difficult to predict.

LN: I mean, we review everything. It’s not just kind of every race that’s wet or Inters or whatever you review. But again, like George says, every case is different. You have to be prepared for every eventuality. And it’s not like you can plan these things. You know, it’s a lot about just decision-making and being prepared at the time to just execute whatever plans you need to have ready and kind of have in front of you. So we did a lot of reviewing of Canada, so I’m sure tomorrow will be better.