(Conducted by Placido Domingo)
Max Verstappen, of course you are aware that you are the youngest winner ever in Formula One. How does it feel?
Max VERSTAPPEN: It feels amazing. I can’t believe it. It was a great race. I have to say thank you to the team to give me such a great car to win straight away in the first race – amazing feeling!
Your father must be so proud of you?
MV: I think so. From a very young age my Dad helped me a lot and to achieve this – amazing.
This is amazing. Just to change from the Toro Rosso to the Red Bull in this week and to win and oh my God, just having behind you someone who is known to be really persistent, like Mr Raikkonen? [Kimi] How do you feel having just a young pilot, like you were at the beginning of your career?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: No, obviously I’m happy for Max but disappointed for myself, but that’s racing. We have our best today after quite a difficult day yesterday and then a pretty poor start. We tried and tried. I was fast but once I got close I could not follow close enough through the last corners and losing downforce behind. I tried and tried but it wasn’t enough today. I think after yesterday we would have been happy to take second and third but obviously we got so close today that it’s even more disappointing, but that’s part of racing and at least we scored good points for the team.
It was unbelievable to have four drivers fighting for it until the very last turn. Sebastian, you are well deserved the third place. Just one question: of course you have been champion four times with the Red Bull and today having the Red Bulls recovering and also the Ferrari, in a way it’s growing. It’s wonderful. It’s a pity we have the Mercedes gone in the first round but it shows how much excitement the cars being equal could happen with the great drivers.
Sebastian VETTEL: I think first of all, many congratulations to Max, it’s a great achievement and in the end it’s his day. For sure, for us we would have loved to be a little bit closer and in front but we tried everything. We tried with strategy but it didn’t quite work today. Nevertheless, I think it’s a great effort from the team after a not so good day yesterday to come back and recover. But as I said, it’s Max’s day and as a sportsman I think we have to respect that, so well done again to him and to the team.
Max, the reception said it all and Sebastian just said it: it’s very much your day. Just sum up your emotions, as an 18-year-old, winning your first ever Formula One grand prix?
MV: It’s amazing. I mean, this race felt like an endurance race to me, especially the last 10 laps. I couldn’t believe that I was leading the race. And yeah, today just everything went well. I could hold on to the tyres and I think we did the best strategy possible and yeah, unbelievable, I can’t believe it.
Max, youngest ever winner of course of a Formula One race. So many questions. Obviously the strategy came towards you after Sebastian pulled your team-mate into a different kind of tactic. Nevertheless, you had to remain very calm under sustained pressure from Kimi Raikkonen on your right there. What’s the most surprising aspect of this win for you, or is it not a surprise to you?
MV: It is a very big surprise. Of course I didn’t expect that. On the first stint on the soft I could keep up quite well after the two Mercedes crashed. But at one point, if you are so close behind the first you start to destroy your tyres so yeah I lost a bit of ground there and we decided to pit and again there, when we went onto the medium tyre, the car felt great. From there on I was just managing my speed, my tyres; I was just managing everything. At the end I think we did the best strategy possible. Especially in the last stint I got quite a bit of pressure from Kimi behind, but on this track it’s quite difficult to overtake so for me it was a case of not making mistakes, no front locking, so that’s what I tried to do and it worked. This feeling to be first… I was targeting a podium but then to win straight away, it’s an amazing feeling.
Coming to you Kimi, second today and second in the championship. Swings and roundabouts for you: the start cost you but then the strategy came towards you. Youngest driver in the field against the oldest, what were you thinking in the final laps?
KR: yeah, I had a poor start. When I released the clutch I got wheelspin and it’s impossible to recover from the first part of wheelpsin when that happens. Luckily, I managed to go around the people in Turn Three and I didn’t lose too badly. It could have been an awful lot more worse. I think speed-wise it was pretty OK. I was able to catch the three guys in front of me. But in the end when I got to Max, I got close but I could not follow close enough or get a good enough exit in the last corner because I was close and obviously I gave quite a hard time to my tyres to following him for so many laps. It’s disappointing not to win but after yesterday and after a bad start I take what we got today and especially for Ferrari as we quite a good points today with two cars. It’s going forward, not what we want, but I’m happy for him [Max]. We all know he is a good driver and he’s in a good team now. When it comes to youngest and oldest, it happens to be like that. I raced against his father. That actually sounds even more scary. In F1! That’s how it goes.
Fantastic, thank you very much. Sebastian, you were behind the two Red Bulls, you needed to do something different, so you threw the dice on the strategy with three stops. But it turned out for both of you not to be the fastest way today and then you had a real ding-dong with him in the closing stages?
SV: Yeah, it was an interesting race. Obviously we tried everything. We tried to get ahead. In the end I think we were surprised at how superior the two-stop was, but yeah, from their point of view, they tried to cover as much as they can. They tried to cover with the lead car, which made sense, but I think you could see for both of us, Daniel and myself, that the three-stop wasn’t really superior. Then I had an interesting race trying to hold him off. They were quite competitive on the medium tyres. Bit quicker than us in the last sector, so bit difficult to hold him off. Once it was very hairy, it was quite close into Turn One, if I didn’t open up we just crash. In that instant for sure I was on fire and complaining, because if I don’t play according to his move there is a crash. Then again it is racing and I can see that he is trying the one chance he had. I had a bad exit and he has to go for it. In the end I have raced him many times and it’s always good fun. It was very entertaining for me trying to hold onto it, trying to hold onto the podium, so I’m very happy I made it. Obviously it took the tension away when he had the puncture in the last two laps, I don’t what happened there. But all in all, high hopes after Turn Four for all of us to have a go and win the race. We tried everything. We split the cars. Obviously on my side it was in hindsight probably the worst strategy, but you know, all this talk doesn’t matter now. Max won the race. I can just pass my congratulations. It’s very special to win your first race and it’s his day. He deserves it. He did a great race. I saw those two fighting a little bit in front of us two fighting, so well done.
Final thought, did you have a good view of the accident between the two Mercedes and your thoughts?
SV: Not really, I was just losing track position to him [Max] in Turn Three. I think I probably took the wrong line. I think I was behind Daniel. I got a lot of understeer, lost a lot of downforce following him so close and Max did a good job, going on the outside, clean bit track, go the clean air and just used it to pass me so well done to him. As a consequence I lost also position in Turn Four to Carlos, but I couldn’t see what really happened. I just saw two silver or grey cars crashing into each other.
Did you see it [Max]?
MV: I just saw one car going onto the grass and as soon as you go onto the grass and you spin, then you can’t do anything. I think it was Lewis unfortunately, he spun and hit Nico but I don’t know why he got into the grass.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Question for Sebastian. I spoke earlier with Jackie Stewart about the need for mind management and controlling your emotions when racing. Just wondered how you approached that in today’s race and in general at different phases of the race – whether you’re challenging, holding someone off, chasing etcetera, etcetera.
SV: I think as the race panned out, start, I had a very good start, very good traction straight away. I was basically P4 into the first corner then, as I said, just lost out to Max and then Carlos. But at the point was trying to attack and make progress. We all benefitted from the two cars crashing ahead. Then I tried to… yeah, I know we’re quicker than the Red Bulls, I tried to pace myself catching up, once I got past Carlos, so the mindset was, y’know, you have 60-odd laps, whether you win or whether you gain or lose a second here or there doesn’t matter now. It’s 66-laps that matter from now onwards. But I think, as I said, strategy obviously, with hindsight we decided the wrong way but we had to try, going into the lead, trying to put the leader at that time under pressure, which was Daniel and, yeah, in terms of mindset obviously there’s various stages where you attack and where you have to, sort of, control. Once I was starting the last stint on the medium tyres I felt after a couple of laps that I wasn’t really that much quicker than the two cars ahead so I could figure out myself that the degradation wasn’t huge of the medium tyres. Overall I think for us we struggled a bit more compared to the Red Bull on this compound. So I sort of focussed on what was going on behind. I knew that Daniel would come at some point because he’s got a fresher set of tyres. I was able to hold him off, which was the most important, which… yeah, was all I could do at that stage: trying to defend the podium. The gap to the cars ahead was a bit too bit to attack and close it because there were practically at the same speed.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto Motor und Sport) Seb, you had just mentioned the last stint, did you have a problem because initially you caught up quite quickly on the first two but then quite early the lap times were the same?
SV: In all honestly, first lap I felt really good and then I think we just struggled on the medium compound. I think the whole afternoon that was the slower tyre for us. I think I said it on the radio, so it was probably broadcast, I don’t know but I think in all fairness we were quicker than the Red Bulls on the softs, around half a second and then on the mediums probably the same pace. Not enough to really create something, as you could see in the second stint already. I was closing – but I wasn’t really able to really put Max under pressure. Yeah. So, obviously it was difficult at that point. Then we tried to go a different route with the three-stop. On the soft again I was able to close after no so successful pitstop, close the gap to Daniel fairly quickly I would say, with around about half a second per lap but overall there was the difference on the medium tyre which today for us didn’t quite work, and that’s what we spent most of the race on, so… yeah, something for us to understand and to learn.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, is this the closest to winning in your last 59 races without victory? How does it feel to be second in the Championship after three years?
KR: I think first of all it’s always disappointing when you don’t win. But when you get close, this close, and still don’t win, it’s more hard to accept. The others did a better job, we had quite a difficult weekend. Like I said earlier, after yesterday if it had been offered, second and third, we’d happily take it – but whatever happened in the first lap with Mercedes and all the rest, getting there, having the speed but not being able to really challenge or try to pass, it was not ideal but I’ll take the points and we go for the next race and try again. At least as a team, as Ferrari, we got some points back on Mercedes and as drivers we got some points back. So we have to be happy, even though we always want more and we want to put the Ferrari where it belongs on the top step.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Max, congratulations, brilliant win for you. In the closing stages, grip was at a premium, as you said, and massive pressure from Kimi. Can you give us some idea of how you split your time in terms of driving the car and looking in the mirrors – or perhaps not looking in the mirrors?
MV: As soon as we pitted I knew we were going to the end. So the first few laps, I didn’t really push. I knew the Ferrari was a bit faster than us today but I just let him catch up and then you’re just controlling the gap. Of course sometimes he got DRS so using a bit to stay ahead. It worked well until eight laps from the end. We were also catching some traffic and then it was all about managing the last sector really; not to slide too much and get a good exit out of the chicane. Yeah, you’re looking a bit in the mirrors but yeah… always.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) When you started as a test driver it was said you were too young for Formula One. Is this an answer to those comments?
MV: To be honest, I’m not here for that. I’m enjoying it. I’m trying to do my best and today that was first. That was just a great feeling.
Q: (Mike Doodson – Auto Action) Seb, both you and Kimi had a particularly good opportunity to study the performance of the Red Bulls today. I wonder whether you can tell me, and perhaps Mr Marchionne, exactly where Ferrari needs to improve to be in front of the Red Bulls.
SV: Should you become president in the next week I will tell you for sure but I don’t know your chances to be honest. I am sure we will tell him. At the end of the day there is no big secrets to hide. I think I’ve said it already. I think we were quicker today, we know that we’re quicker, but we didn’t win today. Overall they did a better job. Congrats to Red Bull, congrats to Max in particular. They did everything right. I think I’ve said it, on the medium tyre we didn’t feel as – at least on my side – didn’t feel as happy, even if I had an advantage… I don’t know how much earlier these guys stopped but I had a fresher set of tyres and then Daniel again had a fresher set of tyres but you could see even with a fresher set it wasn’t straightforward to overtake and just use the pace. Plus, I think, as I said, for us on the medium tyre we struggled a bit more. I had a bit more oversteer, challenge to keep the rear calm, challenge to get on power, use the exits and as where Red Bull were stronger today, the last sector, the nature of the last sector, in that regard favoured them, which allowed Daniel to be quite close all the time and, I guess, vice versa which allowed Max to always open up a bit which made it harder for Kimi.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – globoesporte.com) To Max. You did your second pitstop on lap 34. You have 32 laps ahead. Did you have an indication it could be possible go until the end and mainly to keep the pace in the final part of the race because some drivers would be on fresh tyres at that stage?
MV: To be honest I knew it was going to be very hard but from there on you know you have to set your mind and try to control the tyres, especially the first ten laps. Of course you are not pushing hard on them, you are just controlling it and I have to tell you, the last ten laps, you are driving on ice. It’s like driving on ice. Sliding a lot but it’s all about managing the last sector and get a good exit. I think that’s how a lot of races are won here in Barcelona.
Q: (Giorgio Terruzzi – Corriere della Sera) Max, who helped you more, yourself, your father, Dr Marko? I’m asking in which way they helped you.
MV: I think from when I was four until 16, I think it was mainly my Dad.
SV: What happened in the first four years?
MV: I was just living.
SV: Your mother…
MV: Yeah, my Mum did a lot of work there, yeah. In the end she brought me into the world so… she did a very good job. Yeah, from there, from 16 onwards I think it was a bit of a combination: my Dad, Dr Marko of course. They gave me the opportunity to get into Formula One so it’s great. From there on, you get prepared, physically prepared, you get a great chance at Toro Rosso and then they moved me up to Red Bull, so I think it’s a bit of a combination.
Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sports) Max, now at your first Formula One Grand Prix victory, Sebastian and Kimi are sharing the podium with you, but can you remember what you were doing and where were you when they won their first F1 Grands Prix?
MV: (To Sebastian) When was yours? 2008? Monza. Probably I was go-karting, yeah, somewhere, having fun. Yours?
MV: I was six years old so I can’t remember. I don’t know
SV: Got picked up from the kindergarten.
MV: Yeah, probably.
Q: (Frank Woestenburg – De Telegraaf) Max, can you tell us a little bit about your emotions during the last lap and just after the race, what kind of things were you thinking?
MV: To be honest, I think on the last lap I got a bit of cramp. I was getting very excited. I couldn’t believe it. I was looking up to the big boards, I saw my name, first, with ten laps to go. OK, I was already first before but then I started to watch the board. I was just thinking to myself, don’t look at it any more and focus on the tyres and bring it home and that’s what we did. A great feeling. I absolutely didn’t expect this.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca – VIP Magazine) Max, congratulations, you’re so young that probably you’re racing with your heroes on the grid, so I would like you to tell us about that, who are your racing heroes and you can also mention from the history that you watch on old videos or history or something like that?
MV: To be honest, I don’t really have racing heroes. You have respect for each other and I think also you have respect for what other people have achieved in their careers. Winning a race is one thing but to win a championship is another thing. We have a lot of respect for each other.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian…
SV: Are you sure it’s not for Kimi? I just said to Max earlier that there’s a 99.9 percent chance that the question will always go to Kimi, so I feel quite honoured actually. Thank you.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) You have said many times that you don’t care that much about getting those records. Does it feel any different now when you seem to lose them?
SV: Not really. I think records are there to be broken so I was very excited when I achieved that (being the youngest winner) but in the end I think it’s the day that matters and today I tried to win, I didn’t try to… having the mindset when I saw Max was in the lead to hold him off. I was hoping at some point to see a caravan trailing his car and the yellow number plates, but unfortunately we weren’t on the autobahn so… I thought that this would slow him down but he didn’t stop and pick up a caravan after the pit stop. I guess he was quite smart to say ‘no guys, no caravan yet’.
MV: Does the Ferrari have a hook on the back?
SV: No, you have. I think you have a thing sticking out. No, I think again, records are there to be broken. I was so excited when I won my first race that I didn’t care if I was twenty or 25 or whatever age, and I think the answer to the question earlier, that Max had to answer about his age, I don’t think it matters. If you’re quick enough you belong here and then as soon as you are you belong here and as long as you are you belong here so I don’t think it matters whether you’re 18 or… I think Michael kept racing until he was 43? I met Stirling Moss a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately he only raced until his thirties but I think he was there to race until his fifties. Obviously cars these days are a bit easier to drive than when I started but still I think there’s nothing that speaks against… I don’t know how old Kimi is actually but 35 year old to keep fit and to drive these cars if you’re still quick enough, you’re still young enough, so that’s the bottom line.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Max, congratulations, I would like to know if you have already talked with your father, what did he tell you in this case and your hopes or your opinion for the next Grand Prix in Monte Carlo?
MV: No, I haven’t seen my Dad yet but I think he’s happy. For the next race, to be honest, I don’t know. I’m still learning the car. Before I got into the car, I didn’t even have a hole for my drink tube. I still had to make it. We’ll see. I think our car will be good on a street circuit so I’m definitely looking forward to that and it will be a great feeling to start there in FP1 that’s for sure.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesporte.com) Sebastian and Kimi, when you did your pit stops did you expect that maybe Max could make another pit stop or did you think he was going to the end, to the chequered flag?
SV: I think I wasn’t worried about Max at that point, I was trying to attack the leader of the race which was Daniel, so I think at that point I was obviously going onto the soft tyre. I committed to a three stop, Max then obviously – or Red Bull – had the opportunity to split their cars, they tried to cover with Daniel and obviously do the opposite with Max. As it panned out, obviously that was the quickest strategy but again, that was the race, everybody had the same chances when the lights went off so in the end Max and his team did the best job, crossing the line first. That’s how simple the rules are. With hindsight you’re always smart, you could have done this, could have done that but I think on our side we tried everything. On my side we tried everything, I guess on Kimi’s side so yeah, not much more to say.
KR: It was for both of us. I knew that he was going to the end so basically it was the same for me. Not much to really say.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesporte.com) Max, do you think the performance of Red Bull is also related to this track or the engine is not so so important or the chassis, and we can see Red Bull in the next rounds of the championship as strong as here?
MV: For me, I think this track in general with this car suits us a bit better but still you want more and more power and soon I think we will get some more power, so that’s very positive, but I think a street circuit will be even better for us, but let’s wait and see. We have to wait until we have driven there.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) This is a question for Sebastian on the three stop strategy. Did you go back onto the mediums at the end because the soft was not what you thought it would be, or was that the strategy that you actually wanted to run, and could you even have run another second set of softs? Would that have been an option?
SV: I don’t know if we actually had another one, probably we had but honestly at that point, when we went for the undercut to get ahead of Daniel which we did, it was thirty-odd laps to go and I tried to squeeze even another extra lap by staying out and thirty laps on the medium I think was tight. Thirty-odd laps on the softs I guess was impossible to be honest, so even if we had another one, which I’m not sure we had, we would not have made it so yeah, how do you outweigh to jump into the pits early to get ahead, to get track position and then to probably go on the set that is the least preferred but also was a new set versus a scrubbed one, so I think it was fairly clear what we…
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) But did the softs go off sooner than you thought?
SV: No, they were holding on longer than I thought, to be honest, so I was much happier on the softs. I think you saw in the first stint that once I cleared Carlos I was quicker. I caught up and on the third stint we had a bit of a messy stop, we lost a bit and Daniel was six seconds down the road and within a couple of laps we closed up and as soon as we were close enough, obviously then it was who dares jump into the pits first, knowing that you will only stretch your final stint but at that point we had already committed to a three stop.