FIA Thursday press conference – Austrian Grand Prix
DRIVER GROUP 1: Valtteri BOTTAS (Alfa Romeo), Daniel RICCIARDO (McLaren), Lance STROLL (Aston Martin), Alex ALBON (Williams), George RUSSELL (Mercedes)
Q: Valtteri, we will start with you. Let's throw it back to Silverstone first of all – let down by the gearbox, just how much of a missed opportunity was Sunday?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Definitely a missed opportunity but still the main thing is that always those kinds of crashes that happen in the first lap put things into perspective. So I was actually just really, really glad that I still had a healthy team-mate in a good spirit, ready for this race. The issues, yeah, they are not nice. And it's really troubling us. And it's not always like one issue, it’s a few things here and there and different things keep happening. So that means we've not been able to score points.
Q: Let's throw it forward to this weekend. You scored your first podium in Formula 1 here back in 2014. And you've won here twice. It appears to be a Bottas-style track. Is that fair?
VB: I don't know. I mean, I've had good results here so for sure it's good. I do like the track. It’s good for racing and especially this weekend, with this new generation of cars, it's going to be interesting to see how the Sprint weekend works out. But performance-wise I'm sure we can get points with both cars on both of those days, that would be ideal.
Q: Are you excited by the Sprint?
VB: I am because tomorrow is like immediately, straight into action. It’s nice. So it's a bit more of a fast-paced weekend.
Q: Thank you Valtteri. We'll hear more from you in a minute. Daniel coming to you now. Let's talk about the Red Bull Ring. You've spent a lot of time at this track in the past. Just share some of your best memories, both on and off the track.
Daniel RICCIARDO: Off-track was probably, Max and I did, like, the caravan stuff. So towing the caravans. We ended up doing it again in Zandvoort, but I think, from memory, the first time we did it was here. I think it was like a trial run, just to make sure that we could then go to Zandvoort and execute well. And yeah, we had the whole track to ourselves here and we had a lot of fun destroying these beautifully presented caravans that we were towing. So that was certainly a really funny off-track memory. And then on-track, I really enjoyed the race here in 2017. It's probably the most jacked-up I've ever been from getting a podium. So it was nice to do that, obviously at the time with Red Bull and, you know, with all the family here. That was a good one.
Q: Well, no doubt you're looking forward to a strong weekend this weekend. But can we just throw it back to Silverstone on Sunday? You didn't get much of a birthday present there?
DR: No. I guess because Sunday was Seb’s birthday, the love was already gone and it didn't show me much. It was definitely a pretty dark race. It was very, very, very slow, a long, long way off the pace, and we're still trying to get to the bottom of it, to be honest. We're still trying to figure it out. So in a way I like having a back-to-back so we can, let's say, try to strike back. But obviously it doesn't give us a whole lot of time to diagnose what happened on the weekend. So we're still working at it. But knowing that we get straight in tomorrow, as Valtteri said, with the Sprint format, I do like that. There’s less nonsense going in and hopefully the car is obviously in a better place and we can have a good weekend.
Q: But Daniel, can you explain from a driving point of view what you were feeling or, or not feeling on?
DR: I mean, honestly, the most simple way is like a lack of grip. It wasn't like, ‘Oh, I'm not really feeling like I can hang on to the car here or I'm worried that I'm just going to spin or do something’ it was just I simply didn't feel I had the same grip as every car around me. So I was just operating at a different level from that point of view. And it was cumulative, like over the course of around the lap. It wasn't just one corner where we were really bad and the rest were OK. It was just, as I said, kind of felt like a lack of grip everywhere. So, certainly a puzzling race and obviously a frustrating one. And there are certainly opportunities ahead, but we'll come back and yeah, maybe it's a good thing not having too long to dwell on it. We're back on track now.
Q: Best of luck this weekend. Thank you, Daniel, we'll hear more from you later. Lance, coming to you now. Great comeback at Silverstone on Sunday to 11th place. In the dry, do you feel that you've got a fast car underneath you?
Lance STROLL: We had a tough Saturday, so I definitely think we had better pace on Sunday. But there was a lot that happened in the race, so I think some of the circumstances kind of played into our hands and helped us come back on Sunday. But ultimately, I think we're just still lacking some pace and not as quick as we want to be. But this weekend's a new weekend, so we will see how we go.
Q: Lance, certainly quicker in the dry relative to the opposition than you are in the wet. Has it been the same issue in the wet at both of the last two races?
LS: No, it hasn't been the same issue. I think we have our reasons why we weren't competitive. Last weekend in the wet I don't think we really put it all together on Saturday. But I think we have some tracks where we're more competitive than others. Silverstone just generally wasn't our most competitive track compared to for example Canada the weekend before that. So I think we have some ideas why we weren't as competitive as I think we should have been in the wet on Saturday. And, you know, if we had to do it again I think we could do it better.
Q: OK, well, best of luck this weekend. Thank you, Lance. Alex, coming to you now. First up, how are you feeling?
Alex ALBON: Yeah, I feel fine, thank you. A little bit sore on Monday, and then each day so far has just been getting better and better. So I'm sure by tomorrow, I will be back to 100%. But yeah, there was a little bit of time spent in hospital and all that kind of thing, but, yeah, all OK.
Q: What are your recollections of the crash itself?
AA: Not much to be honest. It all happened very quickly and obviously I was hitting the wall and then at that point it was kind of like a pinball reaction and just going wherever the cars were hitting. But you know, it was just one of those things. Fortunately, Zhou was okay. He had the bigger crash and he seemed to walk out shortly after, so there wasn't really much to it, it was a bit of a blur. But yeah, thankfully everyone's OK.
Q: What about the car? The damage looked substantial. Are you going to be running the updates that you were using at Silverstone here in Austria this weekend?
AA: Yeah, I'd say actually maybe even more of an update. We’ve kind of got everything ready now. I think in Silverstone we had maybe 80% of the update and this weekend, we have all of it. So it's positive. The guys obviously did a great job to get it all repaired. Most probably the crash looked in some ways worse than it was. I was quite fortunate to hit the wall at least head on and avoid all the fancy parts on the sides. And then once obviously… The other crashes were damaging, but with less force, so it was actually salvageable in some areas. So it's good because at Silverstone we didn't actually get much dry running. Obviously, in the race we did about 100 metres, so you don't get much data from that. And coming into this weekend, we'll probably be able to look at what it's able to do and build from it.
Q: Alex, great to see you looking so well. Best of luck this weekend. George, coming to you now. An emotional Sunday for you at Silverstone. In terms of being unable to take the restart, can you just tell us about the conversations with Toto and the team afterwards? Did they understand why you jumped out?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, absolutely. I think there was no… I think it was just a natural reaction. And for me to do that, obviously, the race was red-flagged and seeing such a horrific incident… I thought at the time as well my car was probably game over. And as it turned out, it wasn't. So I think that just added to the emotions, the frustrations, because we definitely could have got going again and probably could have scored a strong result.
Q: Well, talk to us about the pace of the W13? How excited are you? Do you think this is a car that you can now win in?
GR: I don't think we want to get too carried away, because I think Silverstone is a very unique circuit in the sense of the speeds you're going through all of those corners, and we clearly have a lot of downforce and good potential at a circuit like Silverstone. We're going to another circuit here that's, I'd say, more medium-speed as opposed to high-speed. We need to keep on evaluating. I think Silverstone was a really good step in the right direction and we've taken some really good understanding from there. But we're sort of going to go again this weekend and see how we get on.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Question to Daniel, first of all. To try and end this run, on the track that everyone wants to see you end, how much is down to the team providing upgrades and a better car and how much is down to you and what you can do out on the circuit as well?
DR: It means both. It's obviously a team sport and, yes, there's a lot of focus on us as the drivers and controlling the vehicle, but no, I don't think any driver has ever won a race 100% off his own back or done anything like that. It definitely is collaborative. I felt like the last few weekends were I would say better and everything was kind of looking like it was in a much better direction. And we were kind of getting some, like a little bit of consistency and then you throw Silverstone in there and it was like ‘OK, what the hell has happened?'. There are still a lot of things that are confusing. And it's not two, three tenths off and you could say the set-up wasn't there, or maybe that, but when you're talking like margins that they are sometimes… Obviously, I've driven cars long enough to know that it's not like ‘ah, I’m just lifting a little bit too much in that corner, or this or that’. It's just important that we obviously stay kind of committed to it now and obviously try to figure it out. So, we are. It could happen any weekend. Obviously I'd love sooner rather than later. But in terms of me feeling like… If everything's sweet and we're dialled in, then I 100% have faith that I can do it. So I'm kind of just waiting and hoping that it's going to be right. Obviously I'm putting the work in as well. But yeah, it could happen this weekend, it could not, but I'm not looking too far ahead at what Sunday might look like, but I'll hop in the car again tomorrow, and obviously Silverstone after today, after we kind of finish everything that we got to do and put it behind us and get in the car tomorrow with a nice mindset and try to have some fun and yeah, go hard. Thanks, I appreciate your commitment to the game, commitment to the support.
Q: (Peter Vamosi – Racingline.hu) Question to Lance, Alex and George. Carlos Sainz won last weekend. What do you think about it as part of the new generation and when do you plan to win your first Grand Prix ever in Formula 1?
LS: Great for him. I mean, it's obviously a big achievement. So hats off to him. And yeah, I try to plan to win every weekend really, but realistically some weekends it's more difficult than others.
DR: Pick an occasion. Your 30th birthday would be nice.
LS: That's too far away, I'm only 23! Yeah, I mean, this weekend would obviously be great.
AA: Yeah, I mean, same as Lance. Any race would be good. I would take it this weekend for sure. Better now than never. It was good for Carlos. Obviously he had a really good race, good qualifying. It's strange to think… I wouldn't even call us the younger generation now. I feel like I'm kind of getting past that. The new generation is still to come soon. It was good for him, especially after a solid weekend for him. That was a good race.
GR: Yeah, not a lot more to add really. I think you go for it every weekend. Obviously happy to see him get his first victory, of course, but we're all here to compete and we're all here to win. And we all want to win. He's been in Formula 1 for a long time. He's put a lot of hard work into it. And he's definitely had opportunities in the past, so he's deservedly got a race wind under his belt now.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) A question for Alex. Given the switch to ground effect, do you think the different driving style and nuances that creates would have changed your time at Red Bull or would you fare better if you were to go back in that situation against Max now?
AA: Hard one to answer. I would just say I quite enjoy these cars. I feel like they're a little bit more tricky to drive. Obviously they're stiffer, they're lower, they move around a little bit more than previously. I enjoy that. I feel like it's a little bit more towards Formula 2, Formula 3 kind of driving. And yeah, I mean, comparisons between teams it's very hard to say, but of course I feel confident in the car and I definitely feel more confident driving this car than I did the Red Bull cars.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) George, they say the first person in Formula 1 you have to beat is your team-mate. Against Lewis this year you have fared pretty well, I think there was a seven-race run where you finished ahead of him every single race, scored more points. Do you take a lot from that? What kind of boost do you get from having performed so well against him this year? And for Valtteri, what have you made of George's performance against Lewis this year given you know how hard that position is?
GR: Yeah, I think as drivers you want to finish ahead of everybody, of course, and that includes your team-mate. I knew the challenge I faced ahead of the season, going up against Lewis and I've seen first-hand just how great he is. I think in any sport you often get into a bit of a groove and a bit of a rhythm and things seemingly go for you or seemingly go against you and I think I obviously had quite a good run. Those first nine races I'd say we're pretty good, maybe eight races. The last two races have been a bit more tricky for me, of course. But glad to be back to just try and get back on that run this weekend in Austria, but yeah, I think we've seen in the last couple of races just how fast Lewis is.
VB: Yeah, I think George has done great, as expected, and especially as I know myself how tricky it is to beat Lewis, so yeah, he's been doing a good job.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsport-total.com) George, talking about the accident last weekend, when you stepped out of that car, could you talk us through what went through your mind in that moment? What did you see? And at what point did you realise that no one was injured, particularly Zhou.
GR: For me, it was sort of horrifying to see him trapped in there, literally not being able to get out of the car. You know, he was obviously fine and I could see he was moving but it was sort of… I think we all, as drivers, we all know how sort of, I wouldn’t say claustrophobic, but you're sort of in there pretty tight, you've got the helmet on, you've got the Halo there, the headrest, and then when you've got a tyre wall effectively on top of your head blocking your exit, hanging upside down it's just a horrible situation to be in. So I think from every sort of disaster there's an opportunity to improve as a sport or whatever it may be, and clearly things could have been maybe positioned slightly differently to have given him that exit. There was a gap between the barriers and the catch fence and he was obviously trapped in there. That needs to be resolved and, yeah, it wasn’t nice for sure.
Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafé.com) Daniel, a two-part question for you. Have you been using the same chassis all year and if so could it be that you've got something of a haunted chassis or something? Also, noting that when you've had a clean weekend you've tended to perform pretty well, I’m thinking in Australia and Baku for instance. Your season has been sort of interrupted by illness and contact and crashes. How important is it to have a clean weekend in terms of getting that good result and building confidence and momentum so that you continue to do that?
DR: Every time you get on here people… You're a bit of an urban legend. Just so you know. I don't think you, no you wouldn't see the response. But anyway, everyone's pretty stoked when you call in, Matt, so good on you. And the beard’s always on fleek, so good stuff. For sure it's been interrupted in terms of… As you say, it's been tricky to like string a good result or weekends of good results [together]. There have been some issues along the way. Of course things like momentum and all this stuff helps. But it's not like I need three good races in a row to put the car on the podium. If the car is good enough to be on the podium this weekend, then, you know, I believe I can do it. Obviously I'm longing for some consistency just to have better happiness throughout the team and everything. But it's not that that's kind of holding me back from getting more out of the weekend or out of the car. Chassis stuff: we do alternate through the season. I think as far as I know every team probably alternates at some point and you cycle through them. So I'm honestly not sure where we're at at the moment. But honestly, after a weekend like Silverstone these are all things that you look at and of course you look at setup, but it's not like a two tenths thing or a three tenths thing. It's something bigger. So then you start to look at, ‘Okay, what else?’ Like is it something big, as you as you touched on, a chassis or something like that. So no stone is going unturned. Trying to think of something for your beard. But anyways, that's it.
Q: Are you running the same chassis this weekend as at Silverstone?
DR: I believe so. As far as I know. Are those things shared now? You know like we have to share set-ups and that. Is that stuff shared? I don't know. But I'm like, maybe you guys know. Okay.
Q: (Jenna Fryer – AP) The question is for George. You jumped out of your car without hesitation. You said earlier that it was just natural instinct. But not many drivers do jump out of their car in very many series, Callum Ilott tweeted that when he had flipped his go kart you immediately jumped out of your car and came to his aid as well. So it sounds like you've always been that way. Where did that instinct come from in you?
GR: First I hope you’re not driving! I actually rolled my kart in a race in 2008, I believe it was. To be honest, this hasn't gone through my thought process whatsoever during any of these incidents, but I'm just actually thinking about it now. I rolled in 2008 and I was trapped under the car and I was actually burning my arm because the exhaust was stuck on top of me. And this other driver stopped to lift the kart off me and helped me out there. The one with Callum, it was actually just on a practice day that he rolled, which was quite impressive in itself. But obviously with one at the weekend, it was just a horrifying accident and I saw it was a red flag. And I thought my car was broken, so for me it was just sort of a natural reaction. I don't know, to be honest. I hope that helps answer your question.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Question for all five of you about the racing rules this year. It’s now in the Code of Conduct, saying so long as you've got a significant portion of the car alongside it's your corner. At Silverstone, I think we saw a few moves with that was pushed to the extreme a little bit. Is it clear for you guys what the racing rules are this year? And do you think it can be a bit blurry, and allow for maybe a few dive bombs or something like that just to get ahead?
VB: For me, it's pretty clear. Like, of course, we overtake always on different corners, it's always a bit different but there’s kind of a guidance and kind of a rule but of course, every driver will always push it – that’s natural – like you try to find a way, whatever it takes, to get by. But yeah, for me, it's pretty clear.
DR: Yeah, I think overtaking is overtaking in terms of like, I probably couldn't read out specifically, like, word for word what’s written but for me, I know what an overtake is. And if there's a gap, and a little bit of fresh air, then normally try and go for it. And I think we've been doing it long enough, and especially at this level, that we're… you know… there's always some calculation that goes into it as well with an overtake. So, I don't think some wording is going to probably change the way we approach it. Obviously, we have the best judgement at the time and whatever. So, as far as our approach, I don't think it’s changed. If I'm missing the point of this, and something else has gone on that I don't know about, then I'm wrong! But yeah, overtaking is one of the most fun things to do in a race car, and it's obviously you're going wheel-to-wheel with someone and pulling off an overtake – or even defending for that matter – feels really good. So, something we enjoy doing a lot. And… yep… you go Lance…
LS: I think it's been good this year. They put some rules in place, you can’t force people off the track and if a portion of their cars next to yours, you’ve got to respect that. And I think that's fair. We work within those boundaries.
AA: Yeah, summed-up well by Daniel. Nothing more to add.
GR: I think it's good, pretty clear. We obviously want hard racing and fair racing. I think when you go back to the karting days, if you're on the inside and you got the corner, it’s you're right to do what you wish, from the mid to the exit, if you're fully down the inside. And it's always going to be difficult to truly judge in a racing scenario, but I think we've got a good set of sort of boundaries to go out now.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Question is to Daniel. I believe in 2018, before this Grand Prix, you were pretty close to signing a new contract with Red Bull but then decided against it in the end. Knowing Helmut Marko, did you ever have a chat with him afterwards, where he was like saying ‘see what you got?’, if you know what I mean?
DR: No – Helmut gave me a lot of shit over the years, so didn't need to sit down… after I left there was no need for that any more! I would say that obviously I have less interactions with Helmut these days but of course, I would say the relationship is still the same. It's very honest, very Helmut. My admiration or respect for the man has remained unchanged. He's a good guy. So, no, ‘I told you so’. That's part of the sport. And we'll move on.
Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafé.com) Daniel. Max Verstappen has come out and said that he's keen on doing the Bathurst 12-hour, and that's an event that you've mentioned you wouldn't mind doing at some point in the future. Have plans on that moved at all since I guess it was last mooted about a year or so ago?
DR: Not currently. I think it's something I'll definitely be open for post-F1. I'm not sure how close I would be to doing it whilst still doing this. Yeah, probably the same old story I think: with the calendar, if we get to 24 races next year, it's going to be pretty hectic. So, I think just my capacity to even probably want to do something else would probably be pretty low. Well, my interests. But, in general, my overall interest for it is actually relatively high. But I'm probably… once maybe I got a couple more greys in my beard or something.
Q: (Claire Cottingham – Racefans.net) A question for George, and Alex if you’ve got time to chime in, feel free. Just a question on the safety, really. I know it was an isolated issue that we saw at the weekend in Silverstone but are there things to be learned and what can be learned from it, moving forward, considering it was quite a few of you involved in the accident? Thank you.
GR: I think it's an element of motor sport that you're always going to have big accidents at some point during every calendar year. And I think, as I said before, every incident offers an opportunity to learn from and obviously, I think, the roll hoop, got smashed off, and where the car rolled into, and also just for the fans as well, seeing the fan footage was pretty, pretty scary. So, it's a constant evolution. And I think as a sport, we've come so far, but it's never going to stop. And if we fast forward 30 years we're still going to be probably talking about the same things. And that's just racing and what happens when you go at speed.
AA: George summed it up very well, I think. Yeah, it's an ongoing battle, we're always going to fight it. But we trust the FIA and everyone that contributes to our safety. So, yeah, these things always happen. Sometimes it doesn't look pretty, but it's everyone's best interest to work on and improve and there's no doubt that everyone is doing their part and the FIA, they're doing a great job trying to trying to support us and improve our safety.
DRIVER GROUP 2: Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari), Yuki TSUNODA (AlphaTauri), Esteban OCON (Alpine), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
Q: Carlos, King of Silverstone. Now that you’ve had a few days to reflect on last weekend, can you describe the sense of satisfaction that you’re feeling?
Carlos SAINZ: No, I cannot describe it because it's something that is very personal,
and difficult to describe, you know. What goes inside someone's head and is maybe a bit too complex to explain here. But I can just tell you that it feels great that it has, little by little, sunk in, during the last few days. At the same time, being back-to-back with a Sprint weekend, there's not much really to hang around, and there's time to start thinking about Austria. If anything, this win has just given me more and more hunger to try and do it again as soon as possible and, and to keep fighting for those wins.
Q: You flew straight to Italy on Sunday evening. What sort of reception did you get when you landed there?
CS: It was great. I was lucky that I had planned that week with my friends in in Maranello already. And I had the chance to give them a lap in the three-seater, the PMI three-seater that we have there in Fiorano. They spent the next couple of days with me and we had some celebrations back at mine. And yeah, it was a bit of a coincidence because they had never come to Maranello before. And it coincided that it just happened right after my first race win.
Q: So, what about this weekend?
CS: This weekend, Sprint weekend, so it's going to be an intense one. Starting from FP1, going into Quali, trying to nail a set-up. Then two races to do, I think here always there's some good racing with three DRS zones. We saw in Silverstone, how important you know that DRS is, and how much slipstream there is with these cars, how much DRS affect with these cars and how much better the racing is. So, I expect that if normally the racing is great in Austria, this should just be even better, this year, so I think there's going to be quite an intense race out there.
Q: Yuki, we'll come to you next. Contact between team-mates is never ideal, especially when points are in the offing. Can you just give us a sneak peek into the debrief after the race? What did the team say? How did the discussions go?
Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, so we had our contact, fully my fault. I straight away apologised to the team. And especially to Pierre. Of course, I mean, the team are disappointed because especially we were fighting the points. And also, we expect it's going to be difficult race weekend in Silverstone but we are running in the points, so we lost the points. I couldn't say anything more than say sorry. And, also on top of it, my debris went into Max’s car as well. So, I mean, it was a really bad day for me. So… yeah.
Q: We haven’t seen you in the points since Spain, five races ago. How confident do you feel coming into this, one of your team's home races in a way?
YT: Yeah, looking forward to it. Last year had good races here and also good qualifying. So, yeah, the track and also atmosphere here, as a country, is really amazing. So, hopefully we can score points and also especially my side we score again, points for them to perform well in Austria.
Q: Esteban, coming to you, your 100th race, the tonne is up. How do you feel you've grown as a driver during your time in Formula 1?
Esteban OCON: Yeah, crazy how time flies really! I don't feel like I've done three digits races but it's awesome. It's very emotional, I would say, to feel that way, to reach 100 races is something special in a career, and yeah, definitely I'm an another driver compared to where I started. I know a lot more about the sport, about how to perform, how to set up a car, how to work with a Formula 1 team, of course. And yeah, it feels good to arrive here. We’ve been improving as well since I came back. It was 50 races, obviously the end of 2018. I think these next 50. they have been much better than the first 50. So, pretty pleased to have done two podiums, one victory. There's many great highlights, but I hope we can we can write some more for the next 100.
Q: You say there’s many highlights. Those two podiums are the highlights – is there anything else you'd like to say, that's been a highlight?
EO: Probably just meeting fantastic people in this paddock. There are some amazing characters that that you meet, that you work with. And travelling to all these great places as well, is probably, you know, the highlights, and the way of life that we can live, you know, as drivers is quite awesome. So, yeah. Very happy to be where I sit at the moment.
Q: And a disappointing end for you at Silverstone. But how much encouragement do you take from the pace of your car at the minute?
EO: Yeah, we didn’t have a straightforward weekend. We had two issues, which basically finished our weekend pretty much, and we weren't going to run for very good points at the time. But you know, we turn the page, what has happened in Silverstone is done. And then we move forward. And hopefully we can, you know, forget that one with a good result here.
Q: Kevin, coming to you now, after five races outside the points, how good did it feel to be back in them at Silverstone?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: Yeah, felt good. You know, it's been, as you said, five races of not going as well as we'd hoped. On the flip side, we've been in contention for points in all of those five races, but just things didn't go right and we ended-up not scoring. So, it was our first time for a long time, I guess, having two cars in the point, so, that was also a very positive thing. And, a crazy race, like it was it was, it was good to get something out of it.
Q: As you say, the double points finish suggests there's still good pace in the car. But when these upgrades come in a couple of races time, I believe, in what areas do you need some improvement?
KM: It's more downforce and hopefully not so much drag. It's kind of obvious what you're looking for: more performance overall, I think the characteristics in the car are quite nice. I don't think we have any sort of balance issues that are holding us back massively, it's more just… it's a good car, we just need more of it. And hopefully we'll get that but it's positive that we're still able to be in contention for points, this far into the season with the same car that we had in winter testing. Many other teams have brought, you know, one or two upgrades and we're still sort of hanging on by our nails now, but we’re still able to score points. So, that's very positive.
Q: Max, thanks for waiting. Yuki referenced his bit of debris that ended up on your car. How big was it?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Well, it was quite a decent bit at the end – but at the time, when you're at such high speed, you cannot really see how big that piece is. But yeah, it was a big part of the wing stuck in my floor, which is just really unlucky that it happens.
Q: And tell us what the car was like to drive once that'd wedged itself on your car?
MV: Terrible! I just lost like two and a half seconds a lap from it, because, of course, it got itself stuck into the floor, but of course, while doing so, it destroys also quite a bit of the underside of the floor and from the outside, you couldn't see it because now of course you know the floor is so big, and you generate a lot of downforce through the floor with these new cars. But when that all is disturbed – and basically it's like a wedge as well – it was basically stalling the floor, on top of the damage. So, yeah, from one to the other lap, I was complaining about the puncture because it felt like that, because the car was undriveable in basically all the corners and bouncing a lot and just moving around a lot. So, I thought at one point also like it can be a puncture, it can be like the suspension is broken. It's just felt completely out of place. And of course then you know you put new tyres on and then I tried to fine tune a bit my balance, what I could on the wheel, but yeah, the car was it was massively off.
Q: Let's throw it forward to this weekend. There's a lot of orange out there. Describe how big this race is for you.
MV: Yeah, it's always a really enjoyable weekend for me to have so much support coming from Holland. But also it's a home grand prix for us and we've had really good results in the past. So, somehow, it's always been good to us. I really enjoy the layout as well, fast corners, but also few technical low-speed corners. With the elevation changes as well in the track, I think it just makes it a really interesting track. Well, actually, you don't even have that many corners over the lap.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Question to Yuki but Max, I'd like a comment from you as well and maybe the other three you can chip in too. Helmut Marko has said this week that they've hired a sports psychologist to work with you and AlphaTauri to control what he described as your fiery temper within the car. Is that something you welcome? Is that something that you think is part of your development and you're keen to work with? And Max, as a Red Bull driver, is that something you've had chats within the past with Helmut Marko? Because yeah, whilst you can be calm in some races, we've heard you get quite agitated over the team radio. And the other three, is it difficult to stay level-headed in a Formula 1 car during a Formula 1 Grand Prix?
YT: Yeah, I was already working with the other psychologist/trainer from Formula 2. I’m really happy… I was really happy working with him and also he was part of the reason [I was] able to step up to Formula 1. He should be able to help me to develop my performance in Formula 2, consistency. Yeah. I will say they hired a new psychologist/trainer from, I will say, four races before. I don't know [if] currently it’s working well or not. If it's working well I think maybe I didn't have the crash but I have to take a bit more time because he has to understand more about myself, and also we have to understand what direction we have to take. But yeah, I think definitely one of the limitations is that I start to get quite overheated… overheated, especially my brain, in the car. But I was in some situation that makes it slightly better. But I know that I have to improve myself, those parts, to have more consistency. So hopefully the new trainer will work well and we can work well for the future.
MV: What do you want to know?
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Have you worked with a psychologist, has Helmut had chats with you about keeping more level-headed in the car from time to time?
MV: No, I didn't work with anyone but I of course over the years… you look back at what you can do better, right, and I don't think it helps the whole team if you come in really upset in a practice session or whatever because then everyone starts to be a bit nervous and I think that doesn't help the overall performance. But also, you know, I still sometimes get a bit upset on the radio. I don't think it influences my performance but it's more about if things don't go well, if something is badly executed or I have a problem. And I think if the day comes that I'm not going to be upset about these things anymore, then I'm not interested in the sport anymore. So for me, it's also because I care about my result and I care about what I'm delivering or performing at the weekend that I sometimes get upset about these things, but it's not influencing my performance during the race. But of course the way you work throughout the weekend is of course you try and be as calm as you can and some people are a bit more calm, some people are a bit more explosive. That's how it works but you can always work on these things.
Q: Kevin, please, how difficult is it to stay level-headed during a Grand Prix?
KM: Depends on the situation but there is emotion and you get annoyed sometimes and you get excited and if there's stuff that you can improve, why not try to speak to people, whether it be people in the team, friends, psychologists, anything that helps, whatever you need, I guess,
Q: How would you describe your radio manner?
KM: I don't know. I don't know, I haven't thought about it. I can get angry, of course, and excited. I feel certainly I'm a more emotional person inside the car than I am outside of the car but I guess that makes good sense in many ways.
EO: Yeah, it's not easy to stay level, calm when situations are very heated in the car, because we know that at these kind of moments you can lose everything or win everything. So, yeah, I guess the most important though, is in this situation, how you come back to yourself, you know, just after that? And yeah, I know, in my case this is things I've been working on for a while, before I've got to Formula 1, with a lot of different exercises, just working on the pressure. But yeah, people just react differently to different things happening to them. And, yeah, the most important (thing) for us is to perform under these pressures. Q: And Carlos?
CS: Forgot what I was going to say. But I think it's a balance, I think you need to find a balance, an in-between point. I think there's no harm in sometimes being a bit excited on the radio and keep making your point. Making sure that you're making a point, and people take it, and there's other times that you need to give the team calmness and trust. And I think in Formula 1, if there's something I've learned over the years is how to try and find that balance with when to be a bit more agitated or when to be a bit more calm and it comes with experience. I remember in my first couple of years in Formula 1 I could be too calm on the radio and not make my point through or I could be too excited and make no sense about what I was talking and being excited and help the team in taking the right decision or wrong. So I think it all depends on the moment and on its balance.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) Carlos, can you tell us how was the briefing last Sunday with one happy driver and one unhappy one? And do you think that it can hurt the team spirit, the way your victory was?
CS: It was a relatively short briefing because we had to leave to the airport and take the group picture. I think Charles had the anti-doping control so we couldn't share the briefing together. But like always he behaved like gentleman like he is and the briefing went normally like the way it should go. The way it goes when I have a bad race is also a normal briefing and the way it goes when he has a bad race is a normal briefing. It’s one of the strong points that we have as teammates and as drivers and as a team spirit that we have in Ferrari, and these things are always under control.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – motorsport-total.com) Carlos, first of all, congratulations. Towards the end of the race in Silverstone, you got that call to take the ten car lengths gap to Charles which obviously you decided against. Do you think that was the right decision, knowing now how the race unfolded in the interest of the team?
CS: Well, Ferrari won, I won so for sure it was not the wrong decision. I think at that time, in the car, I did perfectly know what I had to do in order to don't put Charles in a compromised position but also to give Ferrari a race win, that is what the team cares the most about. And I think everything I did was sensible, at the end I didn’t put Charles under unnecessary risk or pressure while overtaking him, knowing that I was going to overtake him fairly easily on the soft, pulled away, won the race for Ferrari and I think it was a good outcome in the end. So yeah, I would have done it the same again and I think the team perfectly understood my position. That's why they didn't call again for the ten car lengths because they knew that what I had argued during the radio comment was totally valid also.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Max, what have you seen in Sergio that perhaps your former Red Bull teammates didn't have? Was there like a specific moment, a race, a quality, you've seen in him that really sort of nailed on why he got that contract extension?
MV: Why, every driver is different, of course but I think what is important to the team is that both cars are scoring solid points and that's what we're doing at the moment. So I think it was quite a straightforward decision to give Checo another contract. And yeah, it's been really enjoyable working with him as well, like we have a good time on/off track and that's also very important to a team that there is no heated moments and of course, you know, we all try to win the race but at the end of the day, also we try to win as a team and work together and I think we've been doing that really well. That's why he is also staying.
Q: Max has there been one race or one qualifying session that's really stood out in terms of your impression of Checo?
MV: Well, I always knew he was very quick and stuff so there was nothing really shocking or surprising to me. I knew what he could do.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro – Diario AS) Carlos, in Silverstone, at the first start when you had Lewis behind and Charles too, was your car 100%? Was there any reason that you couldn't set up a stronger pace?
CS: No, there was no unusual things from the car apart from maybe some extra understeer that I wasn't expecting, that was killing a bit my pace and my front left tyre during that first stint but I mean pace, pace wasn't too bad in the first thing apart from that mistake that I did when Max passed me; then I realised that actually been tucked behind Max and also Charles, the slipstream effect was very big and was allowing me to improve a lot my lap times in sector two. So I think there was a bit of an underestimation from my side of how big the slipstream plus the DRS effect was, and how easy it was to follow closely. Also Charles, when he passed me and when I started to have to feel safe and when Max passed me at the time, so yeah, it was just a very tight race in terms of how close the paces were and how close you could stay to the car in front and how much the slipstream was helping you to pull you through the high speed sections.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Max, just follow on Matt’s question: talking about Checo, have you been able to lean on him a bit more as a teammate compared to the likes of say Pierre or Alex as well, because of the greater experience that he's got? And how much has that helped you guys taking big step forward, and as you say, scoring these points on a regular basis?
MV: I always work in my way since second year in Red Bull, I think I understood, of course, that the way the team was working more and also myself, you know, getting a lot more experience and that's what has been the case from the last few years. I go off my own feeling and experience and together of course with my engineers.
Q: (Peter Vamosi – Racingline.hu) To all drivers, there are now some reports that Spa and Paul Ricard may be out for next year of the race calendar. What do you think about this? And if you had the opportunity to change two or three race tracks from the current calendar, which ones would it be and which ones you put in?
EO: Yeah, obviously there's nothing confirmed yet. I hear a lot of rumours and things about the French Grand Prix mainly. I don't really know about the Belgian Grand Prix exactly but, yeah, I saw a great comment from Stefano, basically saying that France deserves to have a Grand Prix in the future. This is my stance as well, this is what I believe in Grand Prix, there is a Grand Prix in there you know, and it's a French word. There's a big community for motor sport in France, we have some of the biggest and the best cars as well. And yeah, I mean, we could find a race if Ricard is not working, we could find a race anywhere and I saw some comments from Stefano about that so I was pretty happy to see that. Obviously, I'm going to go there next race, being very happy to go and enjoy my French Grand Prix. I'm going to have my grandstand as well for the first time. So yeah, I look forward to enjoying the boost from the supporters there.
KM: Yes, as Esteban said, there's nothing confirmed so it doesn't really make a lot of sense to speculate but there's a lot of good tracks around the world that I'd love to drive a Formula 1 car at. A lot of them might not be realistic but there's some US tracks that I tried last year that I'd love to have a go at in one of these cars. So I'd say Watkins Glen, that’s a great one and I actually think Formula 1 cars could run there, maybe safety-wise not so much but at least in terms of the smoothness of the track. Road America is awesome and there's even places like… not so realistic ones like Mid-Ohio that I really enjoyed, little places that are just so crazy to drive when you've been in Formula 1 for so many years. It's nice when Formula 1 goes places that are a little extreme. We went to Mugello a couple years ago, and that felt like something else, something that we don't usually experience and it's just a lot of fun. We are racing drivers, we enjoy driving cars in crazy tracks but there's a lot to it when it comes to picking out tracks for Formula 1 races.
MV: Yeah, it would be a big shame to lose Spa. It's my favourite track in the world and also with the recent changes they did to the run off and stuff. Yeah, I think it’s just an amazing track in a Formula 1 car, any car to be honest, with all the high speed corners and the flow it has in general. And yeah, there are so many tracks out there in the world where I think it will be nice to have a Formula 1 race, but somehow just simply not really realistic. But on the other end, like Kevin said, Mugello is insane in a Formula 1 car. I also liked the Nürburgring to drive. Nordschleife is maybe a bit tricky with an F1 car nowadays, but we leave that up to GT3. But yeah, so many cool tracks in the world but also on the other hand, I think it's nice that F1 has their certain tracks, and then you can do the other races in other kinds of cars.
CS: Yeah, I think there's a compromise to be found, because in the end, I think we all love going to France, to Spa but at the same time the sport is growing so much that I guess there's a lot of new places that are, I guess, paying quite a lot of money to be part of Formula 1. And it's difficult, as a business point of view, to say no to that, especially one of the overseas: Vegas, South Africa, Miami, there's really interesting new places to go to that I'm in favour of going but at the same time, we need to keep the calendar under 25 races. If not, this is going to go a bit crazy for everyone, even mechanics, engineers, us drivers. It could be too much so new places are welcome, but for sure some others need to fall. I think the best compromise would be to do rotation and I understand that we might… or that France or Spa maybe cannot afford to be in the calendar every year but I hope that at least we can go there every two years or every three years we can visit Spa in a Formula 1 car and I just wish that even if Vegas, South Africa, whatever is coming, that we can still go to back to France or back to Spa every now and then to keep enjoying those kinds of circuits and maybe like this they can afford it a bit easier.
YT: I think that especially Spa is kind of a historical track and I think it's old school, it’s an amazing track. So yeah, personally I really like that track. I recommend probably Japan of course. There's a Fuji Speedway with a ridiculously long straight, like two kilometres. And there's an opportunity to overtake a lot if we had DRS there so yeah.
Q: (Carlos Miguel – Marca). Carlos, first pole in Silverstone, first victory, there is no plan for party, nothing?
CS: Who told you that I didn’t party. I arrived today at the track for one reason, you know, but no, I'm joking. I didn’t party, I didn’t party because we're in the middle of a back-to-back and as I said I was lucky that it coincided that six of my best friends came to Italy right after the Silverstone, the British Grand Prix, so I did get to have a few beers with them and open a bottle of champagne with them back at home and it was great because it was a chilled celebration but it was with the people that I laugh the most with and we could have good fun and enjoy the time. Party? Maybe I will wait for the summer break to go full on.
Q: (Claire Cottingham – Racefans) Max, I'm just wondering if you could clarify what you meant about working in your own way. Do you mean that Sergio has had to adapt in a certain way coming into the team as obviously you've been there a lot longer or did you mean something else?
MV: No, just working on my set-up of the car, the way I just set up my car. I look at myself, that's why I spend my time on the simulator first of all, and then try the weekend as well just work together with my engineers to find a good balance in the car.