FIA post-qualifying press conference – Emilia-Romagna | Formula 1®

25 days ago


18 May 2024

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2. Oscar Piastri (McLaren), 3. Lando Norris (McLaren)

F1 qualifying - Figure 1
Photo Formula 1

TRACK INTERVIEWS (Conducted by Davide Valsecchi)

Q: Max, pole position. Incredible performance. Tell me, please, how you could pull off a performance like this? The atmosphere was amazing, but everyone was pushing for the Ferrari driveras. But you, with a difficult Friday, you could pull off an unbelievable lap. Talk us through your lap, please?

Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, really difficult weekend so far, even this morning. So I'm incredibly happy to be on pole here. I didn't expect that, but we made some final changes before qualifying. They seemed to make it feel a bit better. I could push a bit harder. And this track is unbelievable. One a qualifying lap, you know, to be on the limit here, close to the gravel… I touched the gravel in the last corner. Yeah, I'm still pumping. The adrenaline is very, very high.

Q: Do you know that you are writing history? Because with eight consecutive pole positions, you are equal to a legend of our sport, Ayrton Senna. How does it feel? Because this is history for motorsport.

MV: Yeah, it's of course a great start to the year, but also very special. It's 30 years since he passed away at this track. So, of course, very pleased to get pole here. And in a way, it's a nice memory to him. He was an incredible Formula 1 driver, especially in qualifying laps as well. So, yeah, great day for me, great day for the team. So I'm very, very happy.

Q: Congratulations.

MV: Thank you.

Q: And in second position, great performance from Oscar Piastri. Oscar, how was your quali? Because it seems like you were struggling a bit, and then you became a bit more performant in the first try in Q3, and then in the last try, you were up there. You are going to start in first row. How was your lap?

Oscar PIASTRI: Yeah, pretty good. A little bit of a scruffy last corner, but I think around here it's so, so difficult to do a perfect lap, so I'm really happy. I've been really comfortable with the car from the moment we put it on track yesterday, and so, so close to pole, but very happy. It's been a little while since I've been back up here, so I'm very happy with how this weekend's going so far.

Q: And since your McLaren is so improved, tomorrow, do you think that you can fight for something more?

OP: I think yes. I think normally in the past we say no, but yeah, I think with our recent performances, we've learned to say yes. So we'll see what we can do. I think, you know, we've definitely been on the pace all weekend. You know, you can never count out Max and Red Bull, of course, like we've just seen. But I don't know. I think the confidence is high. Of course, it's not the easiest track to overtake on, but yeah, I think the confidence is high that we can do something good.

Q: Congratulations for your performance.

OP: Thank you.

Q: Lando Norris. Well done, mate. You're just a fresh winner in Formula 1. Great qualifying today. All the grandstands and the people were cheering a bit for you because you are so great in Formula 1. How was your lap? How was your quali?

Lando NORRIS: Thanks. Yeah, great. I mean, P3 is not a bad job at all, and yeah, within a tenth, both of us for P1. So, tiny, tiny margins, but I think for us as a team, we've had a very good day, a very good weekend so far. Oscar's done a great job, and so did Max, so it’s exciting. We're close, and I can't wait for tomorrow.

Q: Looking for the podium or looking for something else now that you can get used to it?

LN: Yes, we still need to get used to it, but we're getting closer. To be ahead of Ferrari is also a nice result for us. But it's going to be close. It's going to be a good race tomorrow. Hopefully it's an exciting one to watch, also an exciting one inside the car. But tough, especially when the lap times are so tight. A lot of it is down to Turn 1, lap one, the strategy, the pit stops. So it's going to be a tough race.

F1 qualifying - Figure 2
Photo Formula 1


Q: Max, very well done to you. It's been a stunning turnaround by both you and Red Bull after what was a difficult opening day yesterday. Just tell us, how have you done it?

MV: Yeah, we kept on working. Even this morning it was not good. We just kept on trying to improve the balance of the car because it was shifting a bit all over the place yesterday and this morning. So yeah, I mean, I honestly went into qualifying and I was like ‘well, if we can get a top five, I would be happy’ because this weekend has been really difficult. There was really no reference going into qualifying. But yeah, it felt straight away a lot a little better. I felt more comfortable. I could attack corners finally a bit more and it all started to come together and it really came together in Q3.

Q: Just where did the car come alive?

MV: It was just following the track, to be honest. I mean Q1, Q2, Q3, just you know where there's maybe a bit more time to gain. You try to hook up the corners a bit better. Then, of course, the final lap is all out. You try to risk it all, which I think you could see in the final corner. I had a bit of a moment there, but yeah, just really trying to get everything out of it.

Q: You've got the one-lap pace. You've proved that. Just how good was the car in the long runs yesterday? Just how well prepared do you feel for the race?

MV: Not at all. I mean, yesterday was terrible in long run and short run. This morning we wanted to do a long run, but then we only did like three laps. But also there it didn't feel good. But I also had no balance in the short run. So then it's quite normal that in the long run it's not good. So naturally, I think with the balance that I had in qualifying, it will be better. But I have no clue against McLaren. They looked very strong yesterday in their long run. So hopefully, yeah, we can do something similar.

Q: So, in short, do you think you might have your work cut out tomorrow in the race?

MV: Yeah, for sure. I mean, the whole weekend we have been on the back foot. We managed to be on top in qualifying, but that's qualifying. You know, the race can be again a bit different. And normally I would like to be a little bit better prepared with a bit more information going into the race. So I guess, yeah, we'll have to wait and see what happens in the race.

Q: Final one from me. You've got a busy weekend this weekend because not only are you racing here, you're doing the virtual 24 hours…

MV: That's why I stopped talking.

Q: Just tell us about your schedule between now and the start of the race?

MV: Well, I mean, the race is already on, that one, as well. So, yeah, a few more things to do after this, of course, and then I'll try to head back and do my stints before I arrive to the track here tomorrow.

Q: Any night stints?

MV: Not too late, no. I mean, I need a good sleep for sure.

Q: Look, very well done today. Good luck in that as well. Oscar, let's come to you now. Brilliant job by you. Just how good was the car in Q3, first of all?

OP: Yeah, I mean I've been happy with it all weekend to be honest. From the start of P1 all the way through quali I think a couple of scruffy laps in the middle of qualifying but in Q3 it came together a bit more and I was happy with the last lap. So yeah, it's been a really strong weekend for us so far. There's been no points yet of course, they are tomorrow, but yeah I think we've been pretty happy all weekend.

Q: The first time that you've had all of the upgrades on your car. Just how much confidence do they give you?

OP: It's a better feeling, of course, and having parts that you know are going to make the car faster on the car is always a confidence boost. It doesn't change the world in terms of how we drive, but yeah, anytime the engineers tell you they're going to make the car faster, it's always a nice little boost. So yeah, it's been feeling good and nothing unexpected, which is always good.

F1 qualifying - Figure 3
Photo Formula 1

Q: What about the track? This is your first time racing at Imola. Just how challenging is this place, particularly on a Q3 lap?

OP: It's really, really tough. I think, to be honest, one of the toughest tracks of the year in terms of how old school it is and having gravel everywhere. I think as drivers, these are the kind of tracks that we really enjoy. You don't have to worry about track limits, or at least we didn't today. Yesterday we did. But you don't have to worry about that. You know if you've gone over it because you're in the gravel or you're off. So it's a really exciting lap around here and a lot of fast corners, a lot of corners in general, we don't get much time to rest. So it's been a fun weekend.

Q: Oscar, I don't want to put a dampener on what you've just done, but you are off to see the stewards shortly to discuss what happened with Kevin Magnussen in Q1. Can you just talk us through what happened there from your point of view?

OP: Yeah, I mean, I need to see it back a bit more. When I looked in the mirrors, I didn't see any cars coming. And yeah, then he was right there. So we need to have a look and see what the stewards say.

Q: Very well done today. Thank you. Lando, coming to you now. It was incredibly close, less than one tenth separating all three of you. Frustrated not to be on pole? How good was the car?

LN: Car's been great all weekend, to be honest. I think since FP1 we've been feeling pretty good. Frustrating, I mean, anytime you're within one tenth of pole, you always feel like, where was that last little bit? And I think it was definitely in there, but it's a difficult track just to nail. And I think I did a good job. I was happy with my laps. So I think both Oscar and Max did a very good job today. But it's such a quick and difficult circuit. You kind of have to commit. You can't try and do things. You have to just commit to it and kind of see how you end up on the other side. So it's all about timing. And as soon as you misjudge something a little bit, it can go wrong pretty quickly. So it's an exciting quali lap. I think we did a good job from a team side. I feel like I did a good job today. So strong performance from McLaren and excited for tomorrow.

Q: Given the issues that Max had yesterday on his long runs, just how confident do you feel going into Sunday's race? Chance of a repeat of Miami?

MV: A tough one. I mean, it's almost impossible to overtake here, especially when the gaps are so small. Yeah, I mean, you always try and take advantage of other people's mistakes and struggles. As bad as it sounds, you try and take advantage of those times. I don't know, Max hasn't had the smoothest weekend, but I think if anyone doubted Red Bull or him coming back and doing a good job in qualifying, they're a bit stupid. So, yeah, I think we expected them to be back on track. Annoying to miss out to him once again in qualifying. But we're close and I think we're happy as a team with how we've all performed. So if we can continue and have a strong race pace tomorrow like we had yesterday and like we had in Miami, then I think we can all look forward to a good race.


Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) A question for Max, please. Max, obviously, fantastic turnaround for you this weekend. I just want to ask about the process of that. You said that this morning didn't feel good either, but did you a) have a little bit of a bead of where to go after FP2 yesterday? And secondly, overnight, did you have, like, because I know Jake Dennis, Seb Buemi and guys like that are doing sim support, did you have that to lean on as well today?

MV: Yeah, we tried a lot of things, of course, quite different to what we had yesterday. But then even this morning, it was not really feeling that great because the balance shifted the other way. So yeah, just really getting into things, trying to optimise a few things here and there. But yeah, it was just a lot more difficult than we expected it to be for whatever reason. But at the end, yeah, everyone just stuck together. You know, they kept on thinking about what we could do, also back at the factory and we got there in the end. So I think that is definitely just a great feeling when you you're experiencing like a really difficult weekend to then still get it right in qualifying. Of course I hope that it doesn't happen too often but at the moment just very pleased that we we managed to to turn it around.

F1 qualifying - Figure 4
Photo Formula 1

Q: (Zsolt Godina – Max, you have got some upgrades this weekend. Were you able to focus on them or you were just chasing the performance and balance all weekend?

MV: I think the upgrades are the upgrades, and I think they do the job, but we had other issues than just the upgrades of the car. Of course, we have a lot of people looking at that, but at the same time, we also have a lot of people working on the balance issues that we had throughout the weekend. Anyway, I think all the time when you bring new parts to the car, it's not that you learn everything in a weekend. It takes time, race after race, every track. Also, you need a bit of a different set-up, so it requires different things from the car.

Q: (Daniel Moxon – Daily Mirror) A question for Oscar and Lando, please. We've heard about Max's long runs. Toto Wolff was saying that from what he could see, McLaren's long runs were probably the quickest from practice. From the data that you've seen, is that the conclusion that you draw as well? And if that's the case, then would it be fair to assume that you feel good about your chances of being able to maybe go toe-to-toe with Max tomorrow?

LN: Yeah, I mean, we were very good yesterday, but also in Imola when you see others, we didn't do the quickest laps in these long runs. We were probably the most consistent, but a lot of others had traffic and things like that. So it's close, like it was today. We were confident, you know, the car felt good. It was also a bit colder, so maybe if that kind of came back to us, that would be nice. Yeah, we had a good day yesterday. The whole weekend, the car has been performing well and the team have been doing a good job. But I don't expect us just to have like an easy day tomorrow. I think to overtake here is pretty much impossible, like I said. So that's our first task. But at the same time, if we can pressure them and kind of keep on their toes throughout the whole race and have a performance like Miami, then I think we can be optimistic, of course. But just the overtaking and the strategy is probably a bit harder than what was in Miami.

OP: Yeah, I think more or less the same thing. I think our long runs yesterday looked good, but it's very, very close. I think that's kind of been the story of the season and the last few races, everyone's been so tight. So yeah, we'll see. Overtaking is very tough here, but I think we can be optimistic.

Q: (Erwin Jaeggi – A question for Max. In terms of turnarounds, how would you rank this one in comparison to other ones you've experienced during a race weekend, and which other ones come to mind?

MV: I think in the last couple of years, this has definitely been one of the best, I would say. It's been a while that I've felt like we've been that far off. I mean, Singapore [2023] we were off the whole weekend, so that was just a terrible weekend. But here we were also quite far off and then we managed to turn it around. So it must be at least five, six years, because I don't really remember being able to turn it around like that.

Q: (Matt Coch – Speed Café) To both Lando and Oscar, please. The pace of the McLaren, you've said, is very close to Max tomorrow and the Ferraris behind. What's the key in your respective races to, I guess, converting that? And a bonus one to Oscar, where does this qualifying session stack up in your career thus far?

LN: Honestly, I don't know just yet. That's what tonight's for. So I haven’t really thought much about the race and what to plan for. In terms of tyres, I think myself and Red Bull are similar with what tyres we have available for tomorrow. I think some other teams have different tyre choices. But yeah, tonight, after all of these interviews and stuff, we kind of get to work and discuss our plans for tomorrow. But at the minute, I have no idea.

F1 qualifying - Figure 5
Photo Formula 1

OP: Yeah, I mean, if you can get into the lead, that usually helps out a bit early on. So, yeah, I mean, of course, you try to get a good start, but yeah, we'll see. I think in terms of qualifying sessions in F1, I think, to be honest, it's been a strong weekend the whole time. I feel like it's been a good qualifying session for me, I would say, you know, up there. Probably not the single best but certainly up there in the sessions I've had, and I feel like you know the last couple of weekends… Like, Miami was a good qualifying day and I feel like today's been strong as well. So it's been nice to build a bit more consistency which is something I've been trying to work on. so I'm happy with my day's work.

Q: (Carlo Platella – Formula Passion) Max, this morning you struggled also in FP3. In Suzuka, the team needed to make some changes before qualifying. And in Miami, you didn't seem very confident with the car. Do you think that with this car it's more difficult to get the right set-up?

MV: No, actually, I thought from the start of the year it was actually easier compared to last year. I think the struggles that I had maybe in some previous races were not as big as what we had here. It was more about fine-tuning a few little things. Now we were just completely out of the window, from my feeling, to really push. So it just required a bit more attention to detail to try and fine-tune that. But yeah, I still think it's a very strong car that I feel comfortable with. Just somehow this weekend it has been very difficult to set it up. But yeah, hopefully we learned a lot from it when we get to the next race. I mean, it's always a tricky one, Monaco, you know, to get everything out of the car because so many things can happen. But yeah, hopefully it's a bit more consistent, let's say like that.

Q: (Zsolt Godina – To all of you, please. We have more gravel traps this weekend. As a driver, how difficult was it to adapt this after a lot of modern racetracks with huge runoff areas?

OP: I mean, yes, it makes it a bit more difficult because the risk is more, but I mean, we have track limits everywhere we go. So there's always the risk, even if the risk is a bit different. One is you end up in the gravel, completely ruin the lap or the car. And the other is you go a bit wide, but you ruin your lap as well. It's a bit of a different risk. I think here, with some of the white line changes we made last night with the FIA, you know, we don't have to worry about whether we're in the track or out of the track. We know exactly if we're in or out. And I think for us, that's the more satisfying thing and easier for us. So, I think that was a good change overnight. But yeah, definitely of course the consequence here is a little bit higher than some places, I would say. You know, you bottom out and it's yeah… I know I said the consequences are more or less the same just before but If I was in the wall, I don't think I would say the same thing. So I think for us it’s a welcome thing. and I think China was a very similar example. They added more gravel back in there and we were very complimentary of that work. So I think we would welcome it at other tracks as well.

MV: Yeah, I mean, honestly, I think it's great. You know, you get punished if you go wide. And like Oscar said, you know, you don't need to look: is my tyre in the white line or not, because of the changes that we made with the FIA, you know, to paint wider lines. And honestly, it's just a fantastic track. I wish we had 24 of those on the calendar. You know, we go to a lot of tracks. that don’t really excite me. But this is unbelievable. You know, in a qualifying lap, this is how it should be, you know. There are a few old-school tracks that we have remaining on the calendar and they are always very exciting. And that's also what I fell in love with when I started racing and watching F1. So yeah, we need more of those.

F1 qualifying - Figure 6
Photo Formula 1

LN: I feel like we're just returning back to how it was six years, seven years ago. I don't know why. They made them tarmac. They said it was impossible that we'd ever go back, and now we're just going back to kind of how it was. But like Max said, just the fact we don't have to think about white lines. When you're trying to drive and you're trying to look where the white line is relative to your tyre and kind of guess, it's just something we shouldn't have to think about. So it's more down to the driver just taking the risk and kind of committing to corners, especially on a track like this. We have to commit so much. It's kind of that risk/reward, which you have. And on all the tracks, it's easy for everyone just to find the limit, go over the limit, and then slowly build back to it. Less challenging, you know? So I think what would be even more exciting was, as much as I'm not the biggest fan, is like a Sprint race, you know, one FP1. Like this, it’s a bigger challenge for everyone and the drivers to find the limit without making too big mistakes. So yeah, I think hopefully the direction we can go in for more of the tracks. But Imola is always a special track, so we're always going to be better here.

Q: (Antonio Spina – F1 in Generale) This is a question for Max, actually. I was wondering if getting a pole where your competitors are so close to you or even a little bit ahead of you feels like more enjoyable than just straight dominating the pace?

MV: I mean, I would rather qualify eight tenths ahead, but that's not possible. It is very enjoyable when you have a turnaround like we had. So yeah, I was really excited in qualifying and really happy when I heard that we were on pole. So I guess by that, yeah, it was great that it was that close and that we really, really had to fight for it. But I still come back to the first point. I would rather qualify with a lot in front! But I mean, that's how it goes, right? I guess sometimes, you know, you have weekends where everything really comes together and then the car becomes like unbelievable to drive. And it doesn't matter what you do, it just feels fantastic, and then you can do some really like special laps, which have happened in the past. But this was also really cool.

Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) Another question for Max, please. Max, I think you got a tow on your final pole lap from Nico Hülkenberg. Did that make much difference to your lap overall, or do you feel pretty hooked up anyway?

MV: Yeah, we were tow buddies out there in Q2 already, Q3. So I gave him a tow to 17, then he gave me a tow to Turn 2. I think I did arrive a bit too quick for my liking because I did miss Turn 2 a little bit. So I did gain, then I did lose a bit in 2. Overall, I think it did help me a little bit. But when you are struggling the whole weekend and then finally it's coming around, you have to look for these little advantages to try and stay ahead. And it worked out beautifully.

Q: (Rodrigo França – Car Magazine Brazil) A question to the three of you. How is the relationship of you drivers with the Italian fans? Of course, they want to see a Ferrari winning here, getting pole. But of course, I mean, I think they all respect you, especially Verstappen and Norris racing here in go-karting since you were kids. So what's the relation with the Tifosi?

MV: Honestly, it's been great. And actually, I had a funny story in qualifying where we were driving in the pits…

OP: You saw him too?

MV: A lot of people were clapping. Then one guy, he was doing some different things to me, so I gave him the finger. And then the next time I came around, he was clapping. So, you know, they learn. You know, it's easy to be not nice to drivers, but I can also be not nice to you, you know! So, luckily he was a bit higher up. But it's good. After that, I guess he appreciated it. But, you know, the fans in general here are very passionate. They love motorsport. Of course, naturally, there's more support for Ferrari here, but that's absolutely fine. You know, they have a massive fan base. And, yeah, Italy loves motorsport. Go-karting as well, you know, when we grew up. I mean, it's really fantastic.

OP: Yeah, I saw the same guy, I think. He wasn't giving me the finger, but he was giving me the thumbs down. But he was clapping for you. Wow. Did you sign with Ferrari or something? Is there something we don't know? I don't know. I mean, it's cool. I think in all sports, a little bit of giving the opposition some stick is always good fun, I think, and part of sport. Of course, there's always a limit to that. But I think this is what sport can be about. Sometimes, you know, you look at all the football rivalries and stuff like this, there's always so much passion on both sides. And I think the Ferrari fans are, you know, the epitome of passionate fans. They've been very welcoming this weekend. Maybe not from a distance in the pit lane, but you know, they've been very passionate. And you know, these are the kind of fans that that we love in F1. For me, coming here, it's my first time racing here and it's been very special but always Monza, even though it's not my favourite track on the calendar, it's one of my favourite weekends because of the fans. And none of them are cheering for me, they're all cheering for Ferrari. So I think, for me, being part of events like that is always very special. and Yeah, credit to the Italian fans. LN: Yeah, I saw the same guy, but I think he was on my side. To be honest, the Italian fans have always been extremely kind to me and very supportive. Yeah, so I've always loved coming to... I mean, Monza is, let's say, the Italian race that I think everyone loves the most. But yeah, all of them. There's a lot of fans that have always supported me since go-karts. That's where most of the races are in Italy when you're that young. So we spend a lot of time here. But they've always been very supportive. So I thank the fan that was up there and all of them… I mean of course I’m not in Ferrari, and a lot of them want me to go to Ferrari, but yeah, they've always been very passionate and great fans to me, so I thank them for that.


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HIGHLIGHTS: Catch the action as Verstappen clinches pole ahead of the McLarens in Emilia-Romagna qualifying

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