(Conducted by Pedro de la Rosa)
Q: George, what a race, man! Back on the podium. Can we say that Mercedes is back now?
George RUSSELL: I’d love to say that but today was very tough. I gave it everything I could to hold Max off, he did an amazing job, and we are so proud to be standing here. The guys have worked so hard, so this is for everyone back in Brackley and Brixworth, thank you.
Q: We heard at one point that you were having overheating issues and you couldn’t push as much as you wanted. I mean how much did it hamper you?
GR: I heard it was a lot to be honest, but when I had the Red Bulls in my mirrors all I was doing was my maximum to keep them behind and it was an enjoyable, good couple of laps and I’m just pleased to be able to bring it home in P3. A lot of points on the board for us. So yeah, well done to Max, he did a great job.
Q: Well done, man. Tell us about the last few laps? Could you push full or did the car still have overheating issues, because we saw with Lewis that he had to back off.
GR: Yeah it was very difficult in the last few laps. It was a survival race, when we knew we had the gap, and as I said, just proud to bring it home in P3 and thanks to all the fans here, they have been amazing all weekend, and the support… Formula 1, at the moment, is in an incredible place so it’s great to be here at the moment.
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Q: We haven’t seen you and George battle on track wheel-to-wheel in Formula 1. Just how much did you enjoy the fight with him?
Max VERSTAPPEN: I was a bit frustrated at the time, because I couldn’t get him because of the DRS issues. But the fight itself, I think was really cool. Also, I think that lap where I did go on the inside and then George went around the outside, but then I was on the outside of Turn 3 again, I think that was a really cool fight. Yeah, I look back at it and I’ll smile now. At the time, of course, I was a little bit frustrated. But it was a really good and tough battle, I think.
Q: George, second podium of the many congratulations. First up. How good does this result feel?
GR: It feels great to be on the podium and I think it goes to show the hard work and effort that’s gone on back at a factory, both in Brackley and Brixworth. We’ve always said that you got to be there at the end to pick up the pieces, and pick up points and especially on days like today it was incredibly tough out there for the cars, for the drivers. But I feel like we’re making progress. And I think we, as a team, have turned a page. I feel like this is probably the start of our season now.
Q: You’re on the podium back in Australia. But does this feel closer? Do you feel closer to the guys sat next to you?
GR: Yeah, definitely. I feel like this was more genuine. I think we probably have probably halved the gap to those front runners, compared to the rest of the season. And I think we know there’s probably more performance to find. It’s been a season of problem solving, as opposed to trying to find more performance and bring more performance to the car. And I think we’ve now finally solved our issue. And we can now focus on bringing more performance. So yeah, we’re six races behind but there’s no reason why we can’t claw this back.
Q: And George, can we get a word from you on that battle with Max?
GR: Yeah, it was enjoyable. I mean, it’s… I think Max and I first raced each other back in 2011. So it was nice to have the opportunity to fight with him. And, you know, I’m here to win, I’m here to fight and I obviously wasn’t going to make it easy. I felt bad for him, because he obviously had the DRS issues and he was clearly the faster man today. But still, I think it was hard, fair racing. And that’s what we would like to see, and expect, in Formula 1.
Q: How much were you having to manage temperatures throughout the race? Or was it just at the end?
GR: No, it was definitely when I was battling with Max, I was managing tyres, the engine was overheating, then trying to go as fast as possible to keep them behind. You’re juggling so many things. And then in the last five, six laps, it was literally just bring it home, get it to the end of a race, because we were right on the limit throughout the whole race. But the team did a great job to not allow us to go over that limit and have to retire the car. Nobody enjoys these challenging races with really difficult temperatures but that can make a difference. And if you do a better job, you’re there to see the rewards, so proud of everybody to bring this home.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Max, in the cooldown room you’re talking to George about what a great battle that was so does it worry you the review that the stewards took note of it and were looking into it to see if there’s any foul play, or if you both thought it was it was a really solid battle?
MV: I think maybe they were looking at the moving a bit, the weaving… ah, Turn 3, because of leaving one car width? Yeah, luckily nothing happened. I mean, there was a bit of grip on the outside, so I’m okay with it. I think it was hard racing. And of course, I went around the outside but I’m also in the blind spot of George, so I think he didn’t even really notice where I was exactly, right? Well, for sure you knew that I was there, but it’s always hard to fully give a car’s width there because it’s a fast corner, you’re drifting wide. So if I was in George’s position, I would have probably done the same, so it’s just how we are, I think.
GR: Yeah, I think it’s important that we are allowing this hard, fair racing and the rule is to give a car’s width and that was what was done and I think there was still a wheel on the track from Max. But yeah, it’s a little bit difficult at the moment. I think there’s a lot of… We’ve obviously got the new stewards in and it’s very difficult for everybody, and trying to understand each other, what we feel like is required from the driver’s side, and what they expect from us as well, and it will just need this open dialogue. But I wasn’t even aware they were looking into it, to be honest, I thought it was hard and fair racing.