(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Max Verstappen, I did not expect to be interviewing you here as the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix. Could you believe that this morning?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Not really. I was, of course, hoping that I could get close to a podium, but very tricky conditions out there. But I think we had a really good strategy. You know, we were really reactive and always pitting at the right time. I think we had some good out laps. And then at the end, even with the 360˚, we won the race.
Q: Tell us about that? Coming out of the second last corner we heard you on the radio saying that you just lost the rear. The tyres shouldn’t have worn by that point.
MV: Yeah. So I was struggling a bit with the shifts and the clutch. And we had to change a few things around that to not basically burn the clutch. And that cost a bit of performance. And I think that caught me out, out of that corner. But luckily, I could do a 360˚, so I lost one spot.
Q: Some good hard racing out there. A lot of respect in this championship.
MV: Yeah, it was very good, with a lot of… I was battling a lot of guys, so it was a lot of fun out there.
Q: Down the inside, we’re just seeing behind you here with Charles, your speed with the DRS just made it your corner. He was on those Hard tyres.
MV: Yeah, he was struggling on the Hard tyre. So we had a good run out of the… (Sees replay of his own spin) Heating up the rear tyres, let’s say it like that.
Q: Spinning and winning is acceptable but that could have been a painful experience otherwise.
MV: It was a crazy race and of course, very happy that we won it.
Q: Well, Max, we know we’re on the summer break now. I believe the Dutch are keen on camping. Are you going to be taking a caravan for a couple of weeks?
MV: I mean, that’s what a normal Dutchy would do, right. So maybe I should get back to it.
Q: Well, enjoy the summer break, enjoy the victory. Lewis Hamilton, what a drive. This circuit has been very kind to you, your first victory was here (sic). That’s your 11th podium. Where did the speed come from in the second half of that race?
Lewis HAMILTON: I honestly don’t know. I was definitely struggling at the beginning of the race and wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to catch the guys up. But bit by bit I got a bit more comfortable with the balance. I had a really good start as well. I really want to acknowledge my team who have continued to push and never give up through this tough year that we’ve had so far. For us to be on the podium, both cars to be on the podium twice, is pretty special for us. And really unlucky for George today. You know, the other guys still have a bit of an edge but we’re clearly closing the gap. And this is just an amazing way to go into the break knowing that we have this performance. Hopefully, we’ll bring some more into the second part of the season and start fighting with the guys up front.
Q: Is it significant that the cooler conditions for qualifying and the cooler conditions of the race came into a window for the Mercedes car?
LH: I definitely think being a little bit cooler, it seemed to work a little bit better for us. I can’t tell you exactly why, but grateful for it. I was hoping it was going to rain at the end so I could challenge Max, but we ran out of laps. With a bit of a better qualifying, if the DRS was OK yesterday, we would have been in the running for the win. But either way, two seconds in a row I’m really, really happy. So huge thank you to the fans for all the amazing support. Enjoy your summer. Bless you guys.
Q: I can’t help but notice your suit is torn just near your elbow. Have you been in the wars in your cockpit?
LH: That’s probably just banging against the side of the cockpit. I don’t really… I’ve never seen that before. My arms are OK, so…
Q: Good stuff. Anything you’re going to be doing specifically in the summer break?
LH: Of course. Yeah, just training, refocusing, re-centred and making sure we come back strong in the second half.
Q: Lewis, congratulations. And finally, our pole setter from yesterday. The dream didn’t quite become a reality, George, but that’s still a solid result on the podium. For 30 laps you led that Grand Prix.
George RUSSELL: Yeah, it was… When it started spitting at the beginning, and we were on the soft tyres, I thought we were on and we obviously made a really strong start. It was a good first stint. And then towards the end on the Mediums and the rain started to come down I really struggled and losing a bit of temperature. But again, amazing job by the team – pole position yesterday, double podium, we’re definitely making progress. So really proud of the work everybody’s done.
Q: Yeah, there just wasn’t enough peace there in the latter stages on the tyres. Anything else you feel you could have improved on personally during that Grand Prix?
GR: Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot I’ll look over and that I could have done better. It was challenging to manage the tyres. Obviously, we pitted quite early on both stints. So you’re trying to eke the tyre out until the end but trying to push as fast as possible at the same time. So a bit of a challenging position to be in but nevertheless pleased to come away with a podium.
Q: The next Grand Prix is 28th of August, you’ve got a few weeks off. I suspect having had two podiums in a week you’d probably quite like a race to be again next weekend?
GR: Yeah but I think you know it’s been an incredibly intense start to the season and I think the break we’ll do everybody good. We’ll come back in the second half of the season, reset, refocus and try and fight for some victories.
Q: A very warm welcome to the top three finishers of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix. In third place, George Russell, In second place, Lewis Hamilton. And taking the 28th victory of his career and his eighth of this 2022 campaign, our winner Max Verstappen, Max what a win by you, and after the frustrations of yesterday’s qualifying, how special was today?
MV: Yeah, I think nobody really expected this. But yeah, we said to each other that we have to remain calm before the race. And I think we did that. And we made all the right calls in the race. It was a bit hectic for me in the first lap, getting a bit boxed in and staying out of trouble. But after that, we had a few overtakes and then, yeah, we pitted it at the right time. We put the right tyres on the car. I think that was the most important thing today, to have the grip. And, yeah, slowly we were just moving forward. Then, I think that final stop was very good, at the time we planned it. And then I basically saw that Charles was struggling a lot on the Hard tyre, so that was my moment to try and attack him. I got him and then I spun, did a 360˚, lost the position again. Yeah, it was a bit unlucky, of course. But then we just kept our heads down and got him back again, pulled a gap and basically managed that to the end, because it started to drizzle as well. And no more risk to take and just bring it home.
Q: At what stage of the race could you feel the win coming to you?
MV: Well, after that final stop, and I saw that it was Charles there and then Checo in the middle and I could see he was really struggling for warm up and I was like, this is my chance to go for it.
Q: You said coming into the weekend that you didn’t expect to have the fastest car here. Did the pace of the RBR team surprise you in any way?
MV: I think we were competitive. But I think also Ferrari chose the wrong tyres in their final stint before they then pitted again. Because before that I think they were quite strong as well. And yeah, it was just being on the right tyre, you know. I think also the call we had in the beginning, to be on the soft, was a bit safer, you know, to stay out of trouble and have a bit of grip. So yeah, I think it’s still, you know, it’s about little details again. And, yeah, we just keep on working, keep on trying to improve the car, because I think there are still a few more areas where we can work on to do better. But again, of course, after the break, we have a few races that are a bit different to this track as well. So it will be interesting to see how competitive we’re going to be there.
Q: And Max, you’ve won eight of the opening 13 races, your lead over Charles is now 80 points. How confident do you feel entering the summer break?
MV: Of course, it’s a great lead. But we cannot have too many days like we had yesterday. And even today, you know, we had a few little issues with the clutch and the upshifts, which was not great to drive. Overall, of course, it’s good, but we just keep on working, keep on trying to improve things.
Q: Lewis, coming to you now, a great job by you as well, a fifth consecutive podium and an 11th here in Hungary. After Friday, and qualifying yesterday, two difficult days for you, just how satisfying is this second place?
LH: It’s hugely satisfying. It’s a great feeling for us, given the year we’ve had, and obviously to see the progress that we’ve started to make. Last week, just getting the second place last week was huge for us already, and this is already, now two races in a row that George and I have shared a podium, which is fantastic for the team, points-wise. To both finish ahead of the Ferraris is huge for us, given the pace that they’ve had. And, for me, obviously, starting the race in seventh and getting up here is a great recovery. And I think given the troubles we had through the weekend, that shows that we’ve got really great pace.
Q: What would you consider to be the key moments in your race?
LH: I would say probably that second stint. Going longer in that second stint, giving me the option to then go to the softer tyre at the end. That offset that I enabled myself to get. I think probably the race was lost probably with the first stint, with that Medium tyre, but then towards the second and the third part of the race was pretty epic.
Q: So, if you started the race on the Soft, what might have been possible?
LH: We would definitely have been closer to Max, I would have thought. But who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to go the same distance on those tyres. And who knows? But if we had started, where I think we probably should have started, without the problem yesterday, I think then we would have been in a much better place to race Max today, yeah.
Q: George, coming to you now, many congratulations on your fifth podium of the season. You said going into the race that a win would be very hard, but after getting away so well, from pole position, and driving a great first stint, was there a moment when you thought the win was on?
GR: Yeah, definitely. It was always going to be a tricky afternoon because there was rain in the air throughout. And usually, if you’re on pole position, and it’s spitting, you’re pretty disappointed, but knowing I was on the soft tyre, I was kind of rubbing my hands together and made a really good start: the first four laps was really strong, pull the gap, three seconds, I think to Carlos. And then unfortunately, the rain sort-of stopped, the Medium tyres came into their own. But we still had a good first stint. And we pitted early, both occasions to try and cover Max, cover the Ferraris. Ultimately, Max was too fast for us today. But then, that put us in a very tricky place on that last stint when we were on the Mediums. I was already struggling a bit and my engineer said we had 25 laps ago, and the rain started falling, temperature was dropping. I thought, ‘it’s going to be a tricky last few laps.’ But Lewis did an amazing job. And obviously had far superior pace at the end. Could be, I think, had a very strong middle stint. So, I think as a team, we’ve got a lot to be proud about. We did everything right. For both of us today to give us, as a team, the best opportunity to fight for victory. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way today. As a team, we did everything right.
Q: And talking about your own performance this weekend. How would you sum up what you’ve done?
GR: Yeah, I think it was a good weekend, obviously. Coming away with pole position was great. I think we had a really strong first stint on the soft tyre which, given how the conditions panned out, probably wasn’t the best tyre for that stint. Obviously, you’re always disappointed if you start from pole, to finish anything lower than first position, you’ll be disappointed with. But when you look at everything objectively, I think that was probably a fair result.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ronald Vording – motorsport.com) It’s a question to Max but the Mercedes drivers can add if they want to. Ferrari put on the Hard tyre and as you said, it didn’t work out. But were the Hard tyres, were they even part of your pre-race considerations? Or did you just know that it would not work in these cooler conditions? And secondly, when did you make the call to start on the Soft? Thank you.
MV: Yeah, we were planning to start on the Hard tyre, but then I went to the grid on the Soft tyres, and I was already struggling for grip, so I was like ‘no way we’re going to start at the Hards’. So, it’s also credit to the team, because we of course planned the strategy around that, with the Hard tyre, and then we were like okay, we were switching it to a Soft, we had a lot of confidence in just changing it around, then that’s what we did. I’m very happy that we did, because, yeah, the Hard tyre was really, really tough. And you could see that with Charles and Carlos ,they were sliding around a lot. So, that was after we made up our minds with the Soft, that was never, I think, I consideration
One of the Mercedes guys? Was the Hard tyre ever a consideration?
Q: (Jaap de Groot – Jaapache Media) Max, this was probably the most competitive race of the season. How close to perfect was this victory?
MV: I find it difficult to say if this is the most competitive race we’ve had. I think a lot of it was also about just choosing the right tyres at the right time. Of course, we know that our car is, in general, is quick, but I think throughout the race, Ferrari was also very fast, just they made the wrong call with the Hard tyre. So, there’s still a lot of things we can look into, what we can do better. And yeah, I think the race itself was of course very good. I mean starting tenth, winning the race on a track like this is of course very, very good. But yeah, there are a lot of things we will analyse even and look into what we could have done better. I mean, there are always a few areas where we could have done better. But overall, of course, I’m very happy with today.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Another question for Max. Just how reassuring is it to be able to rely on your team to execute the pit-stop well and make fundamentally good strategy calls?
MV: It’s incredibly important if you want to fight for a Championship. You know, you can’t afford many mistakes. It’s of course, very hard, to always be on the good side, let’s say it like that. But I think we have a lot of good guys in the team and girls. Today, I think Hannah [Schmitz], our strategist, was insanely calm. Yeah, she’s very good.
Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Question for Max. I know you don’t like to think too far ahead and think too much about records. But given you’ve won eight races, do you think that Vettel’s 13 is a realistic target for the season?
MV: I don’t know. We’ll of course try to win as many as we can in the remaining races we have. But of course, more importantly, we have to keep the lead in the Championship. That’s, of course, what we have to try and secure.
Q: (Godina Zsolt – F1vilag.hu) Max, how much were we able to stick with the basic strategy you planned for the race? You say that you had to be very reactive because of the Ferraris and Mercs. Can you please explain a little bit more the decision-making processes during the race?
MV: Yeah, our strategy was out of the window after the laps to the grid! So, we had to change it around and make a new one. But I don’t think that’s very hard for the team. You know, they’re very flexible, and they know what they’re doing. So yeah, it was a bit different. And also, it was anyway, it was a bit difficult to predict, going into the race. We didn’t know that it was going to be spitting for most of the race you know? Makes it all a bit more tricky on the tyres.
Q: (Marijn Abbenhuijs – AD Sportswerelt ) Lewis, last week you were very happy with the second place; today you’re satisfied as well but you’re talking about what could have been? So yes or no, are you going to win a race this year?
LH: I hope so. That’s what we’re working towards. I think today there was potential for… I think this weekend, there was a potential for a win. You saw George on pole. I think if we had both been up there, I think we probably could have worked a bit better together as a team. One of us would have had to support each other strategy-wise. But I think if we are able to take this pace into the second half of the season for sure we can start to fight with the guys. This is the first time we’ve been able to fight and battle with a Ferrari. That’s huge for us. I think the Red Bulls probably still are ahead. The fact that Max started 11th (sic) and spun and still was 10 seconds ahead says enough about their car but I think we still have made huge progress and huge steps. And so to have this consistency and two double podiums in these last two races gives us great hope and a huge push for the second half.
Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – Sportskeeda) Max, at any point were you worried about the rain coming in the last five laps?
MV: Yeah, they told me on the radio that there might be a bit of rain coming and then of course, with the tyres dropping, and you know, temperatures in general, that always makes it a bit more tricky. And then we got the VSC as well, so you lose even more tyre time so that last lap was yeah, it was driven really slowly, just to make sure that you wouldn’t spin
Q: (Panagiatis Seitanidis – Car Magazine, Greece) I would like to ask you… you have an 80-point advantage now, which means that you don’t even have to win another race to get the championship. Will that make you change your approach and the way you battle during the races?
MV: Not really. I think as a team we still want to win more races and that’s what we’ll definitely try to do after the break.
Q: (Johanics Anett – Origo.hu) Max, after your spin how did you feel? Have you thought about like you have lost the battle?
MV: No, I warmed up my rear tyres a bit more than I would have liked but then I could see that Charles was still struggling on these Hard tyres so I just tried to close up again and go for it again.
Q: (Laurie Vermeersch – F1only.fr) Max, now your gap is 80 (points) to Charles; Mercedes are getting more and more competitive. Can we say that you have to worry more about Mercedes now than before?
MV: No, it’s good that they are competitive because then they can steal more points off Ferrari. So I’m very happy. They’re doing very well.
Q: (Eva Vandor – HVG) Max, you have so many wonderful fans here. The stands were full of the orange army, but actually some of them, based on some videos, were burning Hamilton merchandise here around the track. Do you have any reaction to that?
MV: Yeah, that’s of course not acceptable. I mean, these individuals… No, I definitely don’t agree with that because that’s just disgusting. But overall, I think the majority of the fans which also were cheering a lot, I think throughout the race and also on the podium for every driver, I think that’s how it should be. And yeah, those videos, or video, of burning merch I think that’s disgusting.
Q: (Maurits Kapetijn – F1Maximaal.nl) Max, an 80-point lead now. Looking back at the last 13 races, do you think Ferrari has helped you in your campaign for your second world title?
MV: Well,I think everyone always tries to do their best and sometimes that’s of course a bit harder to achieve but yeah, I find that difficult to comment because nobody does things on purpose and everyone always wants of course to try and get the best result out of it. And from my side as well, I always try to get the best result out of it and the team as well. Sometimes you do that better than other weekends. And we also dropped quite a few points as well from our side by having issues but yeah, I find that difficult to say that they helped me because at the end of the day you always have to perform yourself and as a team.
Q: (Victor Bodnar – Magyar Szo) Question to all three of you: there was this light drizzle pretty much throughout the race. How did you like the circumstances? Did you enjoy it? Or was it more of a struggle and Max do you think your spin had anything to do with a slightly wet track?
LH: It wasn’t an ounce of wet part of the track just so you know. It was completely dry, and it didn’t rain enough unfortunately.
MV: Once you’re in the lead, then you have these things and you don’t have anyone in front then you hear these weather reports which is not great. Like I explained before, tyre temperatures are dropping and then of course, you have some guys behind you on a fresher set, softer set as well. So then it’s not amazing, but my gap luckily was big enough of course to manage. And my spin? I don’t know, I just went on throttle and I completely lost the rear. But I think from lap five or six… basically once I started to get close to Lewis and Lando. I started to have issues with the clutch and the upshifts. So we had to do quite a few changes around that to try and minimise the slip. And that was always having a bit of like wheel slip on the throttle. So I don’t know; it just caught me out completely out of that corner.
GR: Yeah, I think the drizzle made it exciting and there were certain points in the race it probably made the tyres and cars go faster because the tyres may have been overheating slightly and the drizzle helped. But definitely, in that last stint when the Medium tyre was towards the end of its life and the rain was coming, it felt pretty, pretty frustrating. But on the flip side for me in those first four laps when I was on the soft, I think it definitely benefited me. It’s just I wish it could have stayed for longer, less at the end and more at the beginning and I think it would have transformed the race.
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) Max, this is probably one of the best Hungarian Grand Prix that we’ve seen for years, different strategies played a role, I guess, but do you see it also as proof that the 2022 regulations work as they were intended?
MV: It was a bit better to follow but still very hard to pass and I think you definitely needed a bit of tyre advantage or like people struggling on tyres or choosing the wrong tyre, the harder compound and it would drizzle is on the track. I think all of that played a role in the opportunities of overtaking more than compared to let’s say, it would have been a sunny day. And I think then it would still be quite a bit of a struggle to pass.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) To both Mercedes drivers, have you seen enough now particularly from last two races to completely stick with this car concept for the rest of season going into next year, particularly after Friday when you do have like a bit of a peak and trough? Does that too temperamental to really nail to or wedge yourself to going forward?
GR: I think we need to just continue to keep an open mind. I don’t think changing car concept is going to make us go any faster, maybe the contrary to be honest. Sometimes you just got to stick to the process and keep on pushing. And that’s difficult to do when you’re off the pace and things don’t seem to be going your way. But personally, I believe in every single person within our team and I think we’re making huge progress for the time being and you know, we saw with the job we did yesterday, you saw with the pace that both of us showed today, I think at the start of the season we were finishing races a minute behind first position. The last two races we’ve been within 10 seconds so I think it’s definitely going in the right direction.
LH: Not really much after that. That’s a good answer.
GR: Thank you.