(Conducted by David Coulthard)
Q: Congratulations, Max Verstappen, the winner of the Dutch Grand Prix. George Russell, wow! You were a little bit out of place in qualifying but you never lost faith. You said you have a quick race car. Second place. Congratulations.
George RUSSELL: Yeah, firstly a huge thank you to all the crowd here. It’s been an incredible reception. It’s a really special feeling for all of us drivers to come racing in Zandvoort and in Holland. So thank you very much.
Q: Now George, you’re going to be happy with that second place but your team-mate will feel that he was maybe a little bit out of position. When you passed him, there was there was a little… What was going on there? It almost looks like you are going to hit the back of him?
GR: Yeah, we like to keep it close, you know, always. But you know, I think as a team today we showed incredible pace. I know the team result wasn’t quite what we hoped for. But this gives us a lot of confidence and a lot of faith moving forward. So, I think it’s incredible see three different teams on the podium and you know we, as Mercedes, are slowly getting closer to that top step so let’s keep on pushing.
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Q: George coming to you, great job as well. Your best result of the season so far from P6 on the grid. Do you feel you extracted the absolute maximum from it?
GR: Yeah, I think so. I think if you told me before the race, I’d be finishing P2, I’d have definitely been very happy with that. But I think we, as a team, thought we had a shot at victory today. And we roll the dice going with that one-stop strategy from the off. And, you know, the pace of the Mercedes today was just absolute flying. So really proud of the job we’ve done as a team to keep on improving and show how fast our race car is. But obviously, starting a little bit further down the grid, it’s always going to be challenging, but no, for us, as a team, incredible race. Sorry for Lewis that he obviously wasn’t on the podium with us because he did an excellent job and deserve to be sat here too.
Q: As Max just said, your pace on the hard tyre was phenomenal. Did that surprise you?
GR: Yes and no. I think the car was really feeling good this weekend from lap one. On Friday, I knew it was going to be a much better weekend than we had in Spa. I think Spa played against us. Zandvoort probably towards us. So, I’m not sure how our Monza performance is going to be I think it’ll probably be somewhere between the two. Hopefully closer to what we saw this weekend, but I think it’s really promising we have so much race pace.
Q: Do you feel got the car was back where it was at Hungary?
GR: I think there’s no surprises there because these are two very similar circuits: high downforce; a lot of medium speed corners. And that’s where the car really comes into its own. So, you know, we go into some very different circuits in the upcoming races. But globally, we’re bringing a lot of performance to the car. And, as I said, I think we have a car that’s capable of fighting victory, we just need to be able to start a little bit higher up the order.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) George, when you had that Hard tyre on, before the Virtual Safety Car, how hard were you guys pushing to make it to the finish? Thanks.
GR: Yeah, I think we had nothing to lose; we were pushing absolutely flat out and we knew that was our only opportunity to fight for victory. And, you know, pre-race, in our strategy meetings, we said, we need to be bold in our decisions to be able to fight for victory. And I think, starting on that Medium, it was clear that the others were going to be doing a two-stop. And, as I said, we just absolutely went for it. And when we saw Max in our sights, that was really exciting. It was probably, for me personally, the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had in Formula 1, just being able to push so hard for so long on such an exceptional circuit as well. I think it was really quite fun.
Q: George after the performance of the car today, do you remain even more convinced that this car can win this season?
GR: There’s no doubt we’ve got the race pace to be able to win. Absolutely sure of that. And had we been starting P2/3/4 we probably could have won the race today. And, ultimately it’s going to come down to our qualifying performance on a Saturday. If we continue to qualify P6 and P8 as we have done in the last two race weekends, we’re going to really struggle to win a race. But we need to find a bit more magic in qualifying as we showed in Budapest.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) George, with what happened to Lewis after the safety car restart, what you feared would happen to you as well, if you’ve been left out on those mediums? And also when you came by him, how close were you to making contact? It like you had to check up a little bit.
GR: I think as a team it was an incredibly difficult decision because had we both pitted, we would have conceded the position to Max. Had we both stayed out, we probably both would have lost out to Max as well so the best chance we as a team had of victory was splitting the cars, one to stay ahead of Max, one to stay behind and see what happened. If you could have just got those tyres restarted, it could have been different but it was always going to be very, very challenging for him, but I’m sure Lewis… he wanted to go for it. As a racing driver and where we are at the moment as a team, we want to win. And we’re obviously really happy with the points, just being consistent, getting them on the board but ultimately no one remembers who finishes second in a championship. So we want to we want to win a race. And yeah, I think obviously with that overtake with Lewis, just a bit of confusion and I came out just as he defended, and yeah, it could a bit nasty, but it’s nothing but respect between the two of us. So yeah, all good.