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FIA Thursday press conference – Japan

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 04: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams talks with George Russell of

DRIVERS – Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari), Yuki TSUNODA (RB), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Alexander ALBON (Williams), George RUSSELL (Mercedes), Pierre GASLY (Alpine)

Q: Yuki, please, can we start with you? Home race. Just how special is this one for you?

Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, very special. I already felt… I saw a lot of fans in front of the traffic lights, in front of my garage. Yeah, it's good to come back here. Very energetic and hopefully I can have a good race in front of them… In front of the cherry blossoms as well, you know, it's very beautiful. So, yeah, so far it's been a very good condition.

Q: Any crazy gifts this year?

YT: I saw like a mini, mini, tiny myself, I don't know, with helmet, racing suit.

Max VERSTAPPEN: Maybe it was yourself.

YT: Maybe myself, yeah!

Carlos SAINZ: You just saw yourself in the mirror.

YT: Maybe, yeah. Actually, the size wasn't like that big.

MV: How big? How big was it?

YT: Yeah, it's literally like me. So, very cute. Maybe I put something in a bag or, you know, something like that, a lucky charm.

Q: And Yuki, what can the fans expect from you and RB this weekend after what was a very strong weekend in Australia for you?

YT: Yeah, so far it's very consistent for us. At the last three tracks, we are consistently performing well, around P10 and feeling confident. We had a bit of upgrades as well, so hopefully that works well, but it's probably more towards the other tracks these upgrades, so I'm not sure it will work massively well, but yeah, still feeling optimistic, and yeah, points will be the main target.

Q: Alright, best of luck with that. Thank you. Carlos, can we come to you now? Quick health update. Are you back to 100% fitness now?

CS: Yeah, I think so, yeah. I've been riding my bike this week. I stayed in Australia for a week and started going back to the gym. Still obviously not lifting heavy numbers like I used to do in the past, but at least I can get my training done and I'm feeling back to 100%, yeah.

Q: And what about performance? Great weekend in Melbourne, obviously. Can you maintain that here at Suzuka?

CS: I will see. I think it's important, like I always say in the past, to turn the page quickly – in the good and in the bad. I think obviously coming from a good it’s more difficult to turn the page because you want to stay enjoying the moment, but I turned it on Monday, started focusing my training and being back as fit as possible for Japan. Also, because it's going to be a challenging track for us. I think last year was one of our most challenging ones in reference to a Red Bull. We were, I think, seven or eight tenths off four or five months ago here. So it's time to see where we are this year and see if we can be at least closer and enjoy a bit more this amazing track than what we enjoyed it last year, because for me, it's one of my favourite ones, if not my favourite.

Q: Alright. Best of luck with that. Thank you. Max, can we come to you now? Can we talk about Honda first of all? They're celebrating 60 years in Formula 1 this year. It's been a busy week for you this week as a result. What's been the highlight so far?

MV: The highlights so far with me and Honda or being here?

Q: Both, either!

MV: Well, I guess winning races and championships together that for sure is my highlight with Honda and just being able to work with their with their people, you know. Yeah, a lot of yeah great things that we have done already and things to come. For me, being here in Japan is always very nice. Did a bit of skiing as well. I've been around already for a couple of days. It's always good to be back here. Actually, I think I enjoyed even more around this time of the year, early on in the year. When you're traveling quite far, Australia, and then when you can go straight to Japan, I think it works out quite well.

Q: Now, for the second Japanese Grand Prix in a row, you come here on the back of a tough weekend. Singapore last year, Melbourne last week. Just how much confidence have you got coming into this weekend?

MV: Every year is different, but also, you know, last year we had a bit of a difficult weekend in Singapore. I think if you look at Melbourne performance-wise, I think we were quick, but we didn't finish the race. So that's not ideal, but our car normally likes you know the higher speed corners, so hopefully that you know we can show that again this weekend.

Q: Best of luck with that. Thank you Max. Alex, coming to you now can we talk spare cars, because after what happened in Melbourne how is the lack of a spare car this weekend going to change your approach to the weekend?

Alex ALBON: No, not at all. I think we've been like that since Bahrain and it doesn't really change anything. So for us, obviously, it will be this weekend and China that we don't have a spare car. But as I said, the mindset's the same as it was from race one.

Q: And in terms of performance, you guys struggled a little bit with tyres in Melbourne. Do you think the return to harder compounds this weekend will help Williams?

AA: I think it was more degrading that caught us out, obviously, with the limited track time. We would have most probably done things a little bit different come Sunday. What we've seen so far, actually, is the car's been behaving pretty well over the races, better than last year, race one, race two. I think Melbourne was maybe a little bit more like it was last year, but... I think we've made a step in race pace generally. So hopefully more of the same here this weekend.

Q: Alright, best of luck with that. Thank you. George, coming to you now. First of all, any ill effects from your crash in Melbourne? How are you feeling?

George RUSSELL: I'm feeling all good.

Q: Look, let's talk about this weekend and the performance of your car. It seems to fluctuate from race to race, sometimes session to session. So how confident can you be coming to Suzuka?

GR: It's still obviously early days in the season. I think there's a clear trend, where we know our strengths in the car, our weaknesses. Definitely performing stronger in the low-speed corners, struggling a bit in the high-speed corners, of which there's more of in Jeddah, more of in Melbourne, more of in Suzuka, you know, these are the faster circuits of the season. There's still plenty to understand. So as I said, still early days, we know we're not where we want to be, but everybody's working really hard to, you know, improve the correlation, get a bit closer to what we're seeing at the factory on the simulator and find some performance.

Q: You've been back at the sim, driving the sim back in Brackley since Melbourne. Did you make any breakthroughs there?

GR: I think every time you're back, you are understanding things further. There's never going to be a silver bullet for any team. You're chipping away at it. You want to find big breakthroughs. You want to find big gains. It's rare that these happen these days in Formula 1. The level is so, so high. Everybody's moving forward, but we're confident that we're going to make another step in the right direction. Will it be enough is another question, but as we said, it's still early days in the season.

Q: Alright. Thank you, George. Good luck this weekend. And finally, Pierre, thank you for waiting. Look, first updates of the season for Alpine here. What are you expecting?

Pierre GASLY: Well, that's nice to have this first upgrade on the car. It was planned already before the season started, so it's sort of, you know, following the sort of development plan that we had already in place. We don't expect it to be major. We know it's not going to, you know, bring us where we want to be, but it's a first step in the right direction, so definitely looking forward to see what it brings.

Q: But can you hope for Q2, for example, on Saturday?

PG: I don't want to give any specific targets. We know it should be a small step of performance on the car, which we obviously need from where we are today. But, you know, it's... We need more and will need more, but definitely it's positive to see that these first upgrades are coming on the car and more should follow in the next few months.

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - APRIL 04: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB attends the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on April 04, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Let's start with Carlos. Congratulations on the win in Australia. Another win. always that's good on the CV. So how are the job negotiations going for next season? How many teams have you spoken to? And what's your mindset? And are you anywhere near a resolution?

CS: Yeah, good, thank you. I mean, talking obviously to a few because that's what my management team and myself should do when I don't have a job for next year yet. So, yeah, talking, we're talking to pretty much all of them. It's just a matter of obviously going more into detail and seeing the more realistic options and what are the best options for me and for my future, which I don't have any news for you or nothing to say here today. The only thing I would say is that, yeah, obviously it's time now to speed up a bit everything and hopefully we can get it sorted sooner rather than later.

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg – Viaplay, Netherlands) Mostly for George this one, but for the group as well. A lot's been said about brake testing last week. Is there a discussion to be had amongst yourselves about what is legal, what is normal, what you can do and what you can't do? Do you expect more discussions to be had for you, George, and also for Max, possibly?

GR: Yeah, I think it was... Obviously a bit of a strange situation that happened last week. As I said at the time, totally caught by surprise. I was actually looking at the steering wheel, making a switch change in the straight, which, you know, we all do across the lap. And when I looked up, I was in Fernando's gearbox and it was sort of too late. And then next thing I know I'm in the wall. So I think, if it were not to have been penalised, it would have really opened the kind of worms for the rest of the season – and in junior categories – of saying, you know, are you allowed to break in a straight? Are you allowed to slow down, change gear, accelerate, do something semi-erratic? I don't take anything personally with what happened with Fernando. And it probably had bigger consequences than it should have. But as I said, if it went unpenalised, can you just break in the middle of a straight? I don't know. So, yeah, nothing more to say really.

MV: Yeah, we'll discuss it in the driver's briefing.

Q: Has anyone got anything to add? Carlos, for example.

CS: Nothing to add. I just think, apart from all that, I think that corner needs to be reviewed, which is already something I said in the last driver's briefing, but it's not the first time that after a collision, the car comes back into the track and it's a corner that we're doing 250 kph and it's blind. I just don't like the last few incidents that we've seen in this corner, also in other categories. It just doesn't give me a very good feeling. It's a great corner, don't get me wrong. I love driving in a qualifying lap. It's just... When it comes to racing, there's been just too many examples of a car coming back onto a track and being very narrow there. And I just think it's a corner that needs to be a bit reviewed.

Q: (Diego Mejia – Fox Sports, Mexico) Question to Max. Were you able to get to the bottom of the brake issue you had? And what can you share with us? Why didn't you have some previous indication about what was going on?

MV: Yeah, I think we saw already some signs on Saturday where things were maybe not looking like they should have done. Of course, then now in hindsight, yeah, you can say that it was coming from the brake caliper. But yeah, we couldn't find any, let's say, fault with the car, which in a way, I mean, it's of course always bad to retire, but of course when you have a fault in maybe the build spec or whatever, then it's a bit worse. So yeah, we'll just move on from there and learn from it that it doesn't happen again, but normally it shouldn't.

Q: Max, do you have concerns about it coming into this weekend?

MV: No, no.

Q: (Roldán Rodríguez – DAZN, Spain) A question to Carlos. First of all, congratulations for the victory. Even in Australia, without the problem in Verstappen’s car, it looks like your car was super-fast. Are you bringing any upgrades in the car this weekend?

CS: Yeah, thank you. I think it's true to say that in Australia, we look very strong, but I think normally in these cases, you just need to get the average of the first three races. And I think the average is we're still a couple of tenths of the Red Bull and we need probably an upgrade, especially in tracks like Suzuka to fight them. I think the job that the team has done this year is extremely good because the car is a very good step forward. It's just we need more of the same, you know, if we want to go for the wins in tracks like maybe Japan, no? There is no big upgrade coming here. We have, I think, a very small thing in the car, at the rear. But it will come later in the season. And I hope that is another good step in the same direction.

Q;: (Nelson Valkenburg – Viaplay, Netherlands) A question for Pierre. Pierre, everybody loves racing here. But you did the junior category here. You did Super Formula. What makes Japan so specific and so special for a driver to race?

PG: Well, I think we get to see it already from the moment we get to the airport or train station or even on a Thursday on a racetrack. I think this place is very unique. You've got fans, spectators in the grandstand already on a Thursday just appreciating the work from the mechanics, you know, building the car, putting all the parts together. And their passion is just unbelievable. You know, they're really showing their support in a very unique way. Usually when I come here, I understood straight away when I came from Super Formula, you’ve got to come here with a half-empty luggage because you leave that place with hundreds of toys and gifts that you receive from the fans. It's personally a country I love from their values, their respect. Very different to Europe and what you see back home. So it's definitely unique. And the track itself is one of the fastest in the calendar. It really makes you feel the power and the downfalls of a Formula 1 car. So it's definitely top of my list.

Q: (Roldán Rodríguez – DAZN, Spain) I have a question to Max. In this ground effect years, how you evaluate the job and how good is Adrian Newey for this new car?

MV: Well, I mean... We have a lot of people working on the car, right? So it's a whole team effort that has to come together. And everyone's ideas, they get taken into account when you build the car that we have today. So yeah, for sure, having someone part of the team like Adrian, I think is a massive boost for everyone. And yeah, many people, they work together to achieve the car we have today. I do like to drive them. To be honest, I do prefer the older cars to drive because they're a bit lighter, a bit more agile. But I'll drive whatever the rules are, right?

Q: (Diego Mejia – Fox Sports, Mexico) Question for George. George, did you get to speak to Fernando after his penalty? Was there any need to clear the air over it?

GR: Yeah, I mean, we actually saw each other back home, just coincidentally bumped into each other in a coffee shop…

MV: Did you brake test him there or not?

GR: No, as I said before, it's nothing personal. When the helmet's on, we're all fighters and competing. And when the helmet's off, you have respect for one another. So, of course, a lot of emotions in the moment. But, you know, we both moved forward from this.

Q: Did you discuss it in the coffee shop?

GR: No, we didn't. He didn't get my coffee, though, that was probably the least that could have happened. But, no, it's history now.

Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) It's a question to Max. You already said last year that it's a pity, a shame to see Honda go from 2026 onwards, but there was no other option. But just in general, how special do you rate your relationship with Honda? And secondly, how does it differ to previous engine suppliers you've used?

MV: Yeah, no, honestly, like the relationship has always been really, really good. And of course, you know, moments that you never forget. For me, like the first podium already, to see the happiness in everyone's faces, you know, after, you know, a few difficult years for me that was really special to witness. And then, of course, the first win. Yeah, it's just all these moments that you have lived through and, you know, the championship, you know, Yeah, I will always remember them. And also, you know, the very bright people that you're working with as well. And also, like Pierre said before, you know, their culture. You have a lot of respect for how they approach things. And yeah, it's been really, really nice to be able to work with them. Of course, at one point, our relationship will end in terms of working with the team but that doesn't mean that you know that's that. I mean, there's a lot more to it and for sure for me I'll always be a big Honda fan but yeah, let's see, a lot of great memories. and yeah apart from the other engine manufacturers I mean they're all great in their own way. but of course naturally I think I've had a bit more history now with with Honda.

Q: (Fred Ferret – l’Equipe) A question to Max and to Pierre. It will be 10 years that Jules Bianchi suffered the tragic accident. What are your memories of that day, and what kind of legacy Jules left to Formula 1?

MV: Yeah, I think it's those days where you don't really want to think about too much. Personally, of course, I didn't really know Jules that well, but of course, we all have friends in common that did. He was, of course, incredibly talented. And yeah, for sure, he would have achieved incredible things in Formula 1. I think everyone was pretty sure about that. But yeah, that was, I think, a very bad day for everyone, the sport, of course. But I think we also, again, learned a lot about safety that day. Unfortunately, it seems like, you know, sometimes these kind of things need to happen for safety to improve. And it's, of course, not what you like to see, but that's how it seems to work in life. But yeah, I do find it nice as well that he will always be remembered. There are things in his name, charities, like the go-kart races his dad also still organises to always remember his name because he definitely deserves that.

PG: Yeah, I mean, I agree with Max. I think definitely Jules will always be remembered for who he was, I think, obviously as a driver, but also just as a human being. He was extremely kind. Yeah, it was an example for a lot of drivers, but especially in France. I remember when we were in the French team, all young drivers with Antoine, Esteban, and many other young kids that we obviously looked up to him as the next big thing in Formula 1 because everyone, I think, agrees that he would eventually make it to Ferrari. So, yeah, it's definitely very, very sad, you know, to remember what's happened. And I'm glad, you know, I think he left, definitely, his mark in Formula 1 and also beyond it. And it will definitely be always remembered.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport)Another question to George, please. Just on the other element of your incident in Melbourne, the fact that you were left stranded in the track and nothing happened for a long time in terms of safety systems. So do you think something needs to change in that regard?

GR: I mean, it was an incredibly uncomfortable position to be in, you know, your... on a blind bend, 250 kilometres an hour, right on the racing line with the car half upside down, you know, waiting for disaster to happen. You know, fortunately I had a 10-second gap behind me and I think it was 10 or 12 seconds before the Safety Car came out. But in the space of 10 seconds, you can have five, six, seven cars if that was on lap one of the race and probably been hit numerous times, even with the yellow flag. Yeah, I mean, we've seen close incidents before where a car comes back, Carlos in ‘22 in Japan. I think we need to find a way that if a car is in a danger zone, automated, you know, VSC straight away, you know, within, you know, half a second or so because those seconds count. And, you know, lives are at risk. We've seen it, you know, spar numerous times in the past, cars, aquaplaning. Yeah, I think it's time with the technology that we have to make steps in this area.

Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Question for all of you. Suzuka's known very well as being a driver's track. Could you just briefly tell us why it is you like driving this circuit, specifically the circuit, not the atmosphere, and your particular favourite parts of the track?

AA: I'd say, firstly, strangely, it's on the narrow side. The immersion of speed when it's narrow just feels more. The precision has to be more as well. For the most part, they've kept a lot of their kerbs original. So not kind of going towards the… I mean, it's changing a little bit, but it for the most part stayed true to the character of the track. There's undulations, cambers, all things which race tracks have and city tracks don't really have anymore. And also, it's just uncompromising. There's really not much run-off. It's white lines and grass. So you enjoy that as a driver to be able to feel that adrenaline when you're driving and to know that to go quicker, you need to put a bit more on the line. That's always quite fun.

YT: Yeah, I love this track. Well, other than... Well, quite easy to get boring.

AA: What?!

YT: Well, like, is there any other tracks, you know, like... Nah, I mean, not this track, but specifically. Like, my personality, I get really easy to get bored, OK. But this is...

MV: Luckily, we've got 24 races a year.

YT: But, like, this track, I’ve driven, like a 1,000 laps, you know, more than... more than, yeah, 10,000 laps. Maybe. I don't know, 10,000 laps, but it's just...

MV: In F4?

YT: In F4, yes, yeah.

MV: Then it gets boring, yes.

YT: It's actually 45 seconds difference, so it's a lot compared to Formula 4. Formula 4, less downforce, so it's just very sliding. Anyway, it's fun to drive. Never get bored here. Every lap is very fun to drive. And yeah, my favourite corners, I would say Turn 7, the fast right.

CS: That’s Turn 8.

YT: Maybe I don't know much about this track, but anyway, Turn 8. Yes, that's it.

CS: I have very little to say after that, but one of my favourite tracks for sure. The narrowness makes it challenging. The fact that if you put a wheel of the track, it's grass or gravel and penalises the driver. And then the feeling of speed that we have here is, I would say, similar to a track like Imola, for example, that the feeling of speed is narrow and it's crazy, and that's what gives the driver the thrill.

MV: Yeah, it's definitely one of my favourites. It's quite intimidating, I think, the first time you actually drive around the track. That's how I found it. It probably doesn't help. It was also the first time you drive a proper F1 car around here. Yeah, it's a lot of fun when the car is also really hooked up. If you have a car that is not really well balanced in the first sector, it makes it really, really challenging. But a car that is just very stable gives you a lot of confidence and then you can really push sector one, which for me is the best part of the track. But yeah, even in the wet, Because it's so narrow, if you make a small mistake, you can go off in the grass or gravel. It just adds a bit more to it than some other tracks where you can run wide, you take the tarmac and you can come back on track. So you definitely need to be really aware. If you maybe push a bit more, you risk a bit more that you can really go off and crash the car. So yeah, that makes it very special for me.

GR: Yeah, I mean, I agree with all the guys, but I think the undulations as well and the cambered corners make it really nice. I think all the circuits that we have, undulations – Portimão, Austin – that's really fun to drive. And then corners that they're banked into the apex, is really nice. Some of the circuits we have off-cambered corners, which all drivers hate, and it's difficult to race. You can't do different lines. So I think that combination of cambered corners and the ups and downs makes it pretty special.

PG: Same as Yuki. I don't get bored here. It's a very entertaining track. I agree with all the guys. It's definitely one of the best of the season.

Q: (Joost Smedema – NOS) A question to Yuki and Pierre as well. For a country as Japan with so many passionate race fans, how would you explain that such little drivers of Japan had success in Formula 1? Could you explain this?

YT: First of all, very far away from Europe. And I think mainly you want to race in Europe in junior categories to get a Super Licence, I would say. And to be close as much as possible to the Formula 1 teams, to get attention, I would say, to get interest. Also, I would say a little bit different regulation. I don't know, Pierre, but in Europe and Japan, there's a bit of regulation difference in terms of like the age you can start single-seater. In Japan, you can start from 16 years old, from birth date. And I think in Europe, drivers, they can start from 14 years old. So there's a bit of... two years difference, and that creates that, you know, already kind of a late start. So that's why, and you have to go to Europe kind of to race and to compete against the Europe drivers, so that probably makes it a little bit difficult. And obviously, the language as well. Japanese don't speak as much good English, like me. So it's hard to communicate well and tell what you want specifically from the car set-up, for example. These things will take a little bit of time. And, you know, you want to have straightaway good confidence in F3 already because you have only one free practice and straight into qualifying. So those makes it, I think, difficult, yeah.

Q: Yuki, are you aware that you are inspiring the next generation of Japanese Formula 1 drivers?

YT: I hope so. We've seen already a lot of Japanese drivers driving already in Formula 2. This as well is other Japanese drivers from actually different manufacturers, like Toyota. But yeah, I think it's good to see a lot of drivers start to challenge in the Europe races and to get our best opportunity as much as possible. But yeah, at the same time, yeah, it's good to see for sure. And hopefully we can see another driver.

Q: Pierre?

PG: I think Yuki explained it very well. I think it's, you know, mainly all the categories are in Europe, when you're based in Japan, we see more Japanese drivers coming over to Europe, racing in Formula 3, Formula 2. When you look back, you still had, you know, Takuma Sato, [Kazuki] Nakajima, Yuki. You could say the same thing about American drivers, which is, you know, a massive country, and still we haven't had many Americans here in Formula 1. So I think it's... you know, some of it is just that mainly all the racing is in Europe and going up the ladder, you need to be here to be exactly for the reasons that Yuki mentioned earlier.

Q: (Mat Coch – SpeedCafe.com) To Alex and George, if I could just Turn 6 in Albert Park. What are your thoughts on that corner, the safety of it? Does something need to change there in future years, given your experiences?

AA: I think George mentioned it before, and Carlos, the exit kerb and the way that it's angled to the wall, it tends to force drivers back onto the racing line. That's one thing. It's not a new thing. It happened last year.

MV: Who was that?

AA: Exactly! I didn't want to say, but there we go. And it was brought up, but obviously maybe it's down to the park or whatever. It wasn't changed. And there's also the kerb. There's kind of a double-stepped kerb on the exit, and especially as we have these low cars now, everything we touch, we can use the first bit of kerb, but if you go too far across and you hit the second kind of ramp section, it forces the car into the air, so there's two things that could be done better.

GR: The corner's amazing, probably one of the best corners on that circuit, so I wouldn't want to see that corner change, but it is true. If you hit that wall, you just bounce back into the track. So, you know, it's not just that corner. I think all... all circuits that have the barriers in certain positions, if it's going to propel you back onto the circuit, that's obviously not good. And we don't want to have big runoffs. We don't want to have tarmac runoffs. You know, I think everything is correct. Just the position of that wall, even if it's, you know, closer to the track, but in line with the circuit, at least you wouldn't bounce off into the racing line.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Max, a question for you. Fernando Alonso reckons there's zero chance that you'll leave Red Bull for next year. Is that accurate and if not, what are the factors that will define your future for 2025?

MV: No, it all depends on if I want to also drive next year or not, you know. But from my side, no, I'm very happy where I'm at. And, yeah, we want to keep it that way.

Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) It's a question to Max, but the others can add if they have an opinion. Last year, Max, you were the first driver to speak out about the 2026 regulations and that it did not look great based on what you felt in the simulator. Now, almost one year on, I'm wondering if there have been any more 2026 sessions, and what is your current opinion about the new rules and the kind of racing it might produce?

MV: I mean, I think we'll have to deal with some compromises on some tracks, you know, where you use a lot of energy per lap. And of course, you know, with the potential like active aero and stuff. I'm not sure if we should head into that direction. That's what it's looking like at the moment. Hopefully, we can optimise all these kind of things. For me, it's more important to just try and fight the weight of the cars, try and optimise that instead of all these tools and tricks to try and help the overtaking or following. There must be different ways to be able to do it. I guess, also, with the engine regulation that they went into, they kind of need to do that to create the top speed and basically you know where the battery stops deploying and stuff. And yeah some tracks will work a bit better some tracks probably it's a bit more on the edge. Of course people will try to counter my arguments but I guess we'll find out anyway and in ‘26, but also I'm not really thinking, of course, too much about it because we have a lot of work in the seasons up until ‘26. But we'll see if we can improve it a bit.

Q: Carlos, can we bring you in on this?

CS: Yeah, I think it's all a consequence, as Mark said, of the engine regulations. In the end, if you have a lot more energy requested from the electric powertrain, you're going to need to have, in a way, active aerodynamics to compensate. And there is where it all starts to get messy with the overtaking and the active aero and how you can do that to help the car to go quicker on the straight and spend less time full throttle. Anyway, until we don't try them, it's I think unfair to criticise or to back the regulation change. At the same time, if it has attracted manufacturers, big manufacturers like Audi, into the sport, I think it's something that it has to be appreciated and put into context. My personal view is that these cars now are probably just too big and too heavy. If I would have to change something for tomorrow, it would be that. And then the suspension, I think the suspensions are becoming a big talking point in a lot of the tracks and how we brought them into some corners and how taxing it can be for the driver. And so if I would have to request something to the FIA for 2026, if we are going to have active aero, why not active suspension to protect the back of the drivers and to protect our own health and the safety of certain tracks. because it's clear that right now we are asking way too many things to the tracks and to the circuits, to the organisations, to change many small bumps that before we wouldn't even feel with the ‘21 car, and now we just can spin or have a pretty big accident because of those situations. So if I would have to ask or add one thing for the ‘26 would be something to protect us a bit on that front.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Another question to George, please. I know you said you wanted the chat around Fernando's penalty to be history, but you also said without a penalty that would have opened up a can of worms. I just wondered, what are your thoughts on the rights and wrongs of what he was trying to do? Because isn't there an argument in a certain way to say that adjusting your line or your breaking point to make things better for yourself is a legitimate racing tactic that's long been a part of this thing?

GR: Thanks. Yeah, what you say is absolutely correct. Every driver is open to change their line, brake earlier, power through the corner, do whatever. When we start braking in the middle of a straight, downshifting, accelerating, upshifting again, then braking again for a corner, I think that goes beyond the realms of adjusting your line. And as I said, I was actually looking at my steering wheel in that straight as I've done every single lap prior. And when I looked up a hundred metres before the corner, I realised I was right behind Fernando rather than the half a second that I was. You know, we've got so many duties to take care of. when we're driving, you know, looking, going around the racetrack, changing all of the settings on the steering wheel, making sure you're in the right engine mode, taking care of the tyres, talking to your engineer, managing the deltas on your steering wheel when it's an in-lap, out-lap, safety car, whatever it may be. If you add into the mix, you're allowed to brake in the middle of the straight to gain a tactical, or get a tactical advantage. I think that is maybe one step too far. And the same when we talk about moving down the straight to get out of the slipstream. There was lots of talks about that in the past. It's not overly dangerous, but it has a concertina effect if everybody's moving around. And if suddenly if you brake test somebody and there's 10 cars behind, it probably has a greater effect by the 10th driver than it does for the first driver behind. So as I said, I don't think what Fernando did was extraordinarily dangerous, but it will open a can of worms if it wasn't penalised.

Q: (Andrew Mckirdy – AFP) A question for George. Sebastian Vettel has suggested that he might be interested in making a comeback to Formula 1 and that he's been speaking to Toto Wolff. How would you feel if that was to actually come to pass?

GR: Yeah, I mean, Sebastian's a great person and he's a four-time world champion and for sure his personality is missed on the grid and I think it's important that we have the best 20 drivers in the world all competing for race wins and championships. So, as I said before... I'm really happy and open to have anybody as my teammate, you know, whether it's world champion, whether it's a rookie, it doesn't change how I go about my business. And yeah, as I said, we'll welcome anybody.

Q: (Adam Cooper – Motorsport.com) Question for Max. You talked about your relationship with Honda, and obviously this week's been a big PR week with them. Can you see yourself renewing your relationship with them at some point after 2026, obviously with Aston Martin?

MV: I don't know. It doesn't mean necessarily ‘26 or whatever, right? I mean, I have a contract with Red Bull until ‘28. After that, I first want to see if I actually even want to continue. That's for me the most important. It's not so much about where. So these kind of things I don't really think about at the moment.

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