FIA Thursday press conference - Great Britain 07 Jul 2011
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers - Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Jenson Button (McLaren), Paul Di Resta (Force India), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Daniel Ricciardo (HRT).
Q: Daniel, what a birthday present. July 1st was your birthday and that was pretty much the day you were announced a Formula One driver full-time.
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, it was quite a nice birthday present for me. It was quite a big surprise. I didnt expect to be racing Formula One this year so its a huge opportunity for me and still a bit of a shock. But I am sure it will all be realised come Sunday.
Q: You must have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Silverstone. The last time I saw you here you ended up on your head, having flipped at the start of the World Series by Renault race, last September I think it was. Yet here you make your grand prix debut.
DR: Yeah, some mixed emotions here but generally I have gone well and it is one of the circuits I enjoy. I had one of my greatest races here back in 2008, with the Formula Renault, so its been good to me and it is quite close to my second home in England. I am able to sleep in my own bed this weekend, which is nice. Just looking froward to going out there and trying to do a good job.
Q: What is your aim basically. Obviously the HRT isnt exactly known as a front runner. Does that worry you? Is your only real rival Tonio Liuzzi, your team-mate?
DR: It doesnt worry me at all. As I said it is a huge opportunity to get a chance to race in Formula One. It is something I have dreamed of since I was a boy. For the race I think the first aim is to try to finish and just get the miles under my belt and the experience at this level of my career. Thats the most important thing. Never done a race this long so physically and mentally to find out where I am, I think that is going to be good. If I can try and be competitive compared to Tonio, he is very experienced, and I am sure I can learn something from him so we will see how I go.
Q: Rubens, you virtually grew up at Silverstone, obviously, with your F3 races years and years ago. What do you think of the latest version of Silverstone. Amazingly enough the weather doesnt seem to have changed, but apart from that I am sure you have seen so many changes.
Rubens Barrichello: That will never change - the weather. Its the same every year we come here. You look on the TV, they had some sun but it seems like it is going to rain exactly when we come here. It is all good and part of the show. I think Silverstone has been fantastic in what they have done. The track is, the layout and the corners for me, it is one of the best. It is the one I enjoy the most. The facilities now seems to be up to Asia standards and it is all good to go.
Q: Now, you are also a former winner here and six times on the podium as well. What are your thoughts about this weekend with Williams?
RB: Well, I think the new rules wont change much the top end. I think the fight between Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari, they were all pretty sorted so they might lose something but it might not change the places very much. But it might help the other teams such as Williams to come a bit closer. How much I dont know. We also have new stuff on the car such as new front wings and some different things that should help ourselves so I am hoping for a competitive weekend. We will have to see what the weather is going to be playing. But I would love to get into Q3 and to finish in the top eight. I think that is a real target for the weekend.
Q: What is your reaction to the news on Monday that Renault will be powering Williams next year?
RB: I was thrilled. I was glad that Williams is working very hard to get back to the top. This is one of the changes. I have been to the factory a couple of times this last week to talk to new people, talking to everyone, and the attitude is very good. If I did say a couple of months ago that I needed Williams to get their act together and do things, they are, so I am very proud of that and I think its going to the right direction as far as next year is concerned.
Q: Jenson, this will be your 12th British Grand Prix. Two-time fourth place, your best here, so how badly do you want to win this race?
Jenson Button: Yeah, I havent even got on the podium here before in an F1 car. That will be my first aim. It is one you would love to win, your home grand prix. We all want to fight for a World Championship and I think we all want to win Monaco and I think we would love to win our home grand prix. It is the one I havent achieved yet so that is something I will be fighting for and this is a pretty special race for us as Brits. We get a lot of support from the public here. To see so many Union Jacks and St George Crosses around the place and the rocket red caps, so its a really, really nice atmosphere. Hopefully we can put on a good show for them this weekend.
Q: Do you think with the new regulations there is a chance there?
JB: There is always a chance. Whether it is a big enough one I dont know. I think if you look at the last race youd say the Red Bull was very strong and we were quite a long way behind them. But we have updates for this race, which hopefully will help us and also we have the difference in the blown diffuser this race and the electronics. That might help us more than the other teams. I dont know, it might not. Thats something we just have to see when we get out on the circuit. But I think the important thing is that we have done a lot of preparation work for this race with the new components and also running with the new blown diffuser system. Its about preparation for this race. This is a pretty tough circuit to get out onto with the new package so preparation is key and I think we have prepared very well and hopefully that will show tomorrow when we get out there.
Q: Lots has been written about where Lewis might or might not be going. It is all speculation of course, but what about your own situation?
JB: Im going, going, gone.
Q: In the future, next year?
JB: I havent sat down and talked to Martin (Whitmarsh) yet about the future. They have an option on me for next year, I keep reading in the press. Its not the time to be discussing it I dont think. We have got more important things to be concentrating on, fighting for a victory here, so we will leave that on the back-burner for now and look into that later this season. But I am happy where I am. We are all fighters and we all want to achieve and at the moment we have been a little bit behind the Red Bulls but we are fighting on. I think the team are doing a great job of bringing updates and reasonably big updates to most grands prix, and especially this one, the home grand prix, so I think we are all doing a very good job. We will see if it works out for us when we get out on the track.
Q: Paul, hopefully you regard this as your home race. But apart from the odd DTM race, at probably Donington and Brands Hatch, you havent had too many home races. So what are your feelings as you come into this?
Paul Di Resta: Its a massive weekend this weekend. Probably the biggest race of my career so far. Proud to be part of (it with) Jenson and Lewis, they are back-to-back World Champions, and to come to Silverstone, on this new generation, this revamped track, I think it is an interesting weekend. But no doubt a lot of hard work. Our preparation has been as normal, like we have to do for 19 grands prix this year, and will continue to go like that. I am sure the British weather will make it not quite so straightforward this weekend but I will just do my utmost to try to go forward.
Q: You did Friday last year but just one other race here on the national Circuit apparently?
PDiR: Yeah, I havent done a huge amount here. Obviously, I went to Europe when I was very young in cars. Only got the opportunity to drive and race here once. The biggest memory I have it was the first place I drove a Formula One car on the National track as part of the BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award. I mean Silverstone has changed a lot since then. These cars do excel themselves here. It is very fast. It isnt easy but we had a reasonable session on the simulator yesterday so hopefully that has given me a bit of an idea and hopefully the running I did last year I will be able to capitalise on that.
Q: Have you been happy with your season so far or have you expected more? What are your thoughts about it?
PDiR: I think it was very positive at the beginning. There have been some definite highs and lows but I think, standing from the outside, you can generally be quite pleased with it. The good thing is I seem to be relatively competitive to my team-mate. We are going forward and hopefully I can just build upon that. But at the end of the year this is a difficult step and certainly the more tracks you go to, all the tracks have been new to me. I havent raced on any of them. This one isnt going to be any different and these guys have a lot of experience and I respect that. I have watched them over the years and hopefully you can just be in the mix to be competitive against them.
Q: Lewis, pole position here in 2007. You won in 2008 as well. Amazing GP2 race. What are your feelings about this circuit?
Lewis Hamilton: I have had some good races here. I think my first race we did a Kart GP here years and years ago, probably in 1994 or something like that. Then I did Formula Renault here in 2001 or 2002 but I generally have had very, very good races here and it is a very, very special place. Not far away from where I grew up. But it is very special and I think the circuit is already a special place, but now they have revamped it as well it is just even better. It feels great to be here, coming to the new paddock this morning. It is so much different to previously. It felt kind of odd when we got to the roundabout up the road instead of turning left we have gone right and come down here. I think it is going to be great for the fans, (Im) really, really pleased and proud of the work that has been done on this place so I hope we can translate that into a good result for the fans.
Q: What everybody wants to know is just how much the regulations might have changed things. What do you think? What sort of chance do you have on Sunday?
LH: I think they have made a reasonable difference. When you take away the engine modes we have been using before it will be different for the likes of Ferrari and for the Renault engines particularly I think as they use it slightly different than us. Whether or not they are hampered more than us, who will know. But I think the team have done a great job with trying to understand and get on top of things and to recover elsewhere, through set-up and through other bits, through updates we have coming. So I really, really hope that we are at least as good as them if not better. In terms of driving style and all that, I think we have had a good chance to be on the simulator again to do a good job there.
Q: I suspect you and Jenson have had a very busy 10 days or week leading up to this race. Just give us some indication of what you have been up to?
LH: Yeah, I went straight from Valencia to Portugal, Portugal straight to Switzerland for a couple of hours then straight to the UK. Quite a lot of work in between there and then just been in the UK pretty much the whole time doing appearances. I think I got a day or so at home over the weekend and then been here again so it has been quite a busy period.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret - LEquipe) Rubens, you enjoyed years of domination with Michael and Ferrari. Do you think that Vettel and Red Bull are doing the same, and do you fear it?
RB: I think its different. I think that you have different tyres that you have to manage. We went through a period where the Ferrari car was fantastic and we didnt have to worry about the tyres so I think that placed us in good hands which was good for the show, is good for everything. Even though you have a Red Bull car, youre still going to have to be looking after the tyres. If any car is following Sebastian and he makes a mistake, with the DRS now you are able to overtake so I think the changes are better for the show in that respect. I think Sebastian has been doing a fantastic job to keep on winning but I think these days its actually tougher and he cannot sleep.
Q: (Adam Scriven - Racing Post) Paul, youve got lots of experience as a racing driver but in Formula One terms, youre obviously halfway through your rookie season. Give us an idea of the learning curve that youre going through. How much do you think that youre learning at each race weekend?
PDiR: Well, youre always learning as a racing driver. I think the biggest thing is confidence in Formula One and building it the right way, probably starting a bit on the safe side at the beginning of the weekend and building your way up, and thats what Ive tried to do, to have that approach. I felt thats the most solid way to go forward. In terms of driving, obviously its a bit different to what I was recently used to, the DTM car, now in an open-wheeled car but its good fun and all I can say is that Im well on to put in the hard work, to be in a Formula One car.
Q: (Mediator) You talk there about confidence; on a high speed circuit like this, is it going to be more difficult to find that confidence than perhaps it was on a lower speed circuit?
PDiR: Yeah, probably. This is the first high speed track this year, really, and even on the simulator you do get the sensation of that and having walked the track this morning, the wind that were going to have from the exit of Copse all the way down to Stowe Im sure will make it interesting as well. The wind effect is something that Im not used to, but its the same for everybody I suppose. Its who can do the best job out there will be the winner.
Q: (Stephen Howard - The Sun) Rubens said that Sebastian Vettel cannot sleep but for either of you two guys there (the McLaren drivers), perhaps he could sleep and still win it.
JB: I think if I was in that position I would be able to sleep, couldnt you? Maybe its all the partying that hes doing, thats why he cant sleep. Sorry, I dont even know the question. I just made up my own answer.
Q: (Stephen Howard - The Sun) I mean hes so far ahead he could do it in his sleep perhaps.
JB: Yeah. Really? Is that the question? I like it. No, I dont think so. Hes still pushing hard. Weve seen that, hes on the limit. Hes obviously done a very good job in qualifying. Its very impressive that hes been able to put it on pole at every race except one and in the races its been a little bit more difficult for them. Weve challenged them a few times, probably three or four - in four races we have challenged them. Twice weve beaten them and the other two we didnt. Its not a walk in the park for him. Hes still having to push hard and its good to see and I hope it continues that way.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) Rubens, youve done over 300 of these things. What sort of advice would you give Daniel, not only for the race but for his first race weekend?
RB: Well, I think that first of all you have to see what your cars like and obviously it will be very different to the one you were driving, by the looks of it. So just pace yourself because theres a lot of high speed here. Knowing the circuit a lot, get a good balance, the tyres are going to degrade a lot. Just have fun, forget youre doing Formula One, just do the same as youve done in the other races.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speedsport News) And Daniel, you said that this will be the longest race you have ever done. Have you upped your training for this, or do you think youre ready for it?
DR: Ive been travelling a lot, now doing both championships so I can only do so much with the training at this stage but I think the race fitness is pretty good because Ive done quite a bit of racing this year. So yeah, we will see how we go on Sunday but I feel ready for it. Ive got an idea, being the reserve for Red Bull Racing last year and seeing how the boys handle the race weekend - Mark and Seb - and knowing what they do or knowing a little bit what they do outside of race weekends, Im able to build up a bit of a programme for myself. Ive only known a week ago that this was going to come; I cant change the world in a week. Id been preparing for it for a little while just in case I got the call, which I have. Im sure Im going to be alright.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) To all drivers; the blown diffuser helps the car in the braking area, brings more speed in the high speed bends and in general improves the cars handling. Now you dont have it any more on a high speed track and you dont have the opportunity to test it on the track. Are your worried about the safety here?
RB: I think that the answers can be different from driver to driver because in my car there wasnt such a difference in the high speed, to be honest. The difference was more in the braking area through the low speed so like Lewis said, theres going to be a lot of set-up adjustments with the new parts on the car, youre going to be looking for adjustment. Formula One moves on very very fast. You cannot just say yeah, you have lost like half a second and thats it. Youre going to find something better by the end of the weekend, youve probably got to the level - if youve done a really good job - that you didnt even lose anything, so I suspect its the same for everyone on that part.
JB: I think that the top teams will lose quite a bit, because weve had this for a little while now so you start designing the car around the systems that you have in place. Its going to be a reasonably big hit and youll feel it everywhere: high, low speed, not so much on power but its more under braking and high speed corners. I think the biggest problem will be is that braking and exit will be very different in corners to the feeling of the car, could be changing a lot, so thats probably the thing that you need to get used to.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Sorry, but the question is about safety.
JB: Safety? No. Its just like us driving in a slower car, with less downforce. Theres no safety issues. We feel the circuit, we feel the car. When its wet we have to drive the car slower because its easier to go off because theres less grip. Theres no safety issues, no.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Jenson and Lewis, is there are any concern amongst either of you that we could be entering a period of domination with Seb and Red Bull like we saw with Michael and Ferrari at the start of the last decade?
LH: I think Rubens answered it well. I dont think so. I think its a different time, rules are changing all the time. Theyve clearly established that theyre a strong team but you have lots of other strong teams and it even looks like people like Renault is getting stronger this year. Youve got Mercedes who are there or thereabouts. Youve even got Williams, the updates, the changes that theyre going to have over the next couple of years. You never know if theyre going to be back up there with us, which I think will be great for the sport. I dont think it will be the same situation. I think there was a lot more to it in the Schumacher days. I dont even bother going into that.
JB: I dont know. Its difficult to compare. Theyre extremely quick and they have the reliability. Last year they were quick but they didnt have the reliability, so obviously theyve taken a step forward. Theyre very strong in many areas so its tough to beat them but weve beaten them twice, its not as much as wed like to beat them but they are beatable and I think Michael won 13 races or something at the start of one year, so we are just going to hope that doesnt happen but I think we are close. We are close to them. Its not like they have a massive, massive advantage like one and a half or two seconds or something.
Q: (Gary Meenaghan - The National Newspaper, Abu Dhabi) Weve seen in recent months that Britain has a lot of sportsmen competing at the highest level, like McIlroy, Andy Murray, David Haye. Im just wondering where Formula One stands in the British sporting hierarchy?
JB: Ive never compared it before but I would say that were doing alright, as a sport in general. In the history of motor racing, its been a British driver thats been a fighting near the front. I think were looking pretty good. You are right. Were doing well at golf at the moment which is great, also in cycling: Cavendish won yesterday which was good to see. And there are many other sports that were doing very well in. I think we should be very happy with how competitive we are at the moment and I think thats good, looking forward to the Olympics. Obviously we wont be involved in that but I think we should all be very proud with what weve achieved over the last few years and hopefully we will go on to achieve a lot more.
PdiR: Again, as Jenson said, it wasnt that long ago that we had back-to-back World Champions so I think the coverage thats being given in the UK at the moment is great from the BBC. They keep saying their figures are rising which is great. I think the racings helped that but I think its very difficult to compare too much. I think it depends on the season and it depends on whats gone on, how competitive it is. Im relatively new to it, so these guys will speak more about that.
LH: I dont compare them. Im very proud to be a part of British sport. We challenge competitively in pretty much every sport and for some reason, theres always someone thats competing, pushing hard enough. Weve all got very much devoted to achieving our goals and to winning. I think that we as the British public and the British sportsmen we generally have a really good pedigree for sport. I think thats quite impressive, and I think the more support that we can get from the fans and the more support we can get from you guys, that makes a huge difference to us all so we have to keep it up.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) We have a new start and finish line and the first two corners are pretty quick. Do you think that it will be more difficult to gain a position at the start or less than before?
LH: I think there will be more opportunity for overtaking, I think that was the plan. I think turn one and two are fairly straightforward, flat out, but before you go through Copse, everyone would then get in single file, flat out through the next sector. Now its quite quick through turns one and two but you have an opportunity, its very wide into turn three so its probably going to be relatively easy to be able to follow through turns one and two and then have an opportunity into turn three, I think. I think it will be great for the racing and for the start.
Q: (Jeff Sweet - The Sun) Could the McLaren boys come clean and tell us how long you took to make up after that slight shunt in Canada? And have there been any team rules ever since, to not really go for it alongside each other, so it doesnt happen again?
JB: Well, I got out of the car after the first race in Canada, before it was red-flagged, went back to the sort of mobile home thing that we have there and Lewis was there so we had a little chat so it was all done.
LH: It was done before the race was even won, before he won the race.
JB: Its good that way.
Q: (Mike Doodson - Honorary) Daniel, some of us find it intriguing that your name is written one way and you pronounce it another way. Have you considered going back to pronouncing it the way that generations of Ricciardos presumably did in the old country? After all, it could be an important factor when Ferrari comes knocking on your door in a few years time.
DR: An interesting question. I guess that growing up in Australia, coming from an English speaking country, to try and get people to say it as the Italians would, to roll the R and give it the expression, it doesnt really come out the same way. I will always be known as saying Riccardo and you sort of cross out the second i. In Italy - as my father is Sicilian - they will say Ricciardo or however an Italian would say it, probably. So yeah, I say Riccardo because its a bit easier for most people. Thats how it was but I guess the Italians are more than welcome to say it how it probably is meant to be said.
Q: (Kate Walker - Girlracer) Daniel, in the run-up to this Grand Prix, Colin [Kolles] has made some comments about the car not really suiting the track. Are you concerned that your F1 debut might not really happen this weekend, due to the 107 per cent rule?
DR: Oh. I havent thought about that at all. I hope Im more than capable of qualifying in that percentage. I dont fear it will be a problem. Its my first time in the car and I do expect it will be different to what Ive driven before. I dont expect it to be the Red Bull that I drove in Abu Dhabi for the junior tests. Tonios done a good job this year and hes qualified all the time so if hes able to qualify then I hope I can too. It hasnt even crossed my mind.
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