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FIA Wednesday press conference – Saudi Arabia

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 06: George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes and Charles Leclerc

DRIVERS – Yuki TSUNODA (RB), Valtteri BOTTAS (Sauber), Lance STROLL (Aston Martin), George RUSSELL (Mercedes), Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)

Q: George, why don't we start with you? Mercedes were difficult to read at the pre-season test, and it feels they were a little bit difficult to read at the first race weekend as well. What conclusions did you draw from the Bahrain Grand Prix?

George RUSSELL: I think the conclusions we drew were that the car has potential. I think when we saw the pace on FP2, that was genuine, Lewis and I were P1 and P2. I think probably not everybody turned up, but we were genuinely fast. And then in the race, we had some really big cooling issues that caught us by surprise. And we know it was at least a 15-second loss just in the battery and the power. And probably more after you consider the effect it had on the tyres. and just an extra couple of seconds in stint one when I had Checo behind me would have been pretty handy. So I think we'd have been in the fight for P2, for the podium, with Checo and Carlos, but definitely we didn't show our true potential.

Q: Were those cooling issues a simple miscalculation or something that actually needs a fix?

GR: I think it was definitely a miscalculation. It would have been quite straightforward to just open the bodywork very slightly and make things much easier. But we don't know how we fell into that place… Sorry, I was just distracted by Charles walking in there. I’ve lost my lost my groove now! No, we don't really understand why, because we didn't change anything from testing, in FP2 as well, and then suddenly it caught us out on Saturday. So I'm sure it'll be better this weekend.

Q: Are you worried about it for this weekend?

GR: We need to get on top of it, and we've got some tests tomorrow to try and understand further what happened.

Q: Thank you, George. Charles, let's come to you now. We're just debriefing really about the Bahrain Grand Prix. What conclusions did you and Ferrari draw?

Charles LECLERC: Well, it was kind of what we expected, more or less. Maybe a little bit better, but we need to wait and see. I think drawing conclusions after the first race is a bit too early. One thing for sure is that our focus is on the brake problems we had in the race. We've been working on it and I hope we can solve them.

Q: And what about the raw pace of your car? Do you think you've got something that can challenge Max Verstappen this year?

CL: Not for now, but I think we are in a much better place compared to last year, where after the first race we were more trying to fix the issues rather than focusing on the future and the next upgrades. Whereas this year, the car is in a much better place, in a place that we expected it to be. So now we can focus on the future upgrades. So that is looking better. However, for now, Max is still too far ahead.

Q: Thank you. Nico, can we come to you? Is your car in a much better place than last year?

Nico HÜLKENBERG: Yes.

Q: And where are those improvements?

NH: That also wasn't that difficult because the base was pretty poor last year. But, yeah, obviously Bahrain, you know, we've had all that testing there. We had race, so everybody is obviously very honed in and optimised around Bahrain. It did feel much better for me in the car. I think you saw that on Sunday [sic] in the race too, although I was quite far behind after that one incident, which was obviously a big pity. But yeah, we have to wait and see a few more weekend events, different characteristics like here, high speed, how much we've really improved.

Q: Do you feel that the car is something that you can go racing with this year?

NH: We have to, whether we want to or not!

Q: But you struggled last year is the point.

NH: Yeah, yeah. It does feel that way, you know, that we've done a better job on the aero map. It's more consistent, it's more predictable. It allows us to look after the tyres more. So I think it's definitely a step in the right direction. But again, like everyone here, it's early days. We've had one track, one specific track. So we need to wait and see what happens in a couple of next ones.

Q: Thank you. Lance, coming to you now. So last at the end of lap one, P10 at the end of the race. Was that the hardest earned point of your Formula 1 career?

Lance STROLL: No, I don't think it was the hardest-earned point. But yeah, it made for a pretty exciting race, just with a little bit more action than I anticipated. But yeah, it was nice to pick up a point.

Q: And what do you feel about Aston Martin's pace this year?

LS: I think we have some work to do. You know, we finished ninth and 10th. Couldn't really compete with the cars in front of us and yeah, you know, that's the goal. So have some work to do. But it's early days, very different kind of track this weekend. So we'll see how we go.

Q: And do you think this track will play to the strengths of your car?

LS: I don't know. We'll find out.

Q: Fact-finding mission. All right. Valtteri, what about you? If we forget the pit stop for one second, what conclusions did you reach from Bahrain?

Valtteri BOTTAS: I also had lap one damage in the first corner already, which, of course, compromised the race quite a bit. So, yeah, I mean, the pit stop would have been nice to be a bit faster, but we've definitely learned from that. And, yeah, we’ll try to avoid those kind of situations in the future. But looking at the pace, calculating damage, everything, I think in the race we looked in a much stronger place than what we did on a single lap against the competition. So, yeah, some progress made there.

Q: How different is the team's approach this year? It feels like it's more aggressive than it was last year. Would you agree?

VB: Inside the team, in the end, yeah, it's a bit of a different feeling. Everything looks different, but also the mindset is getting to where it should be. So there's lots of hope with this current package. Still lots to unlock. And I think that's why people are excited and motivated.

Q: What do you mean by the mindset? You've won races for Mercedes. Where does the team need to get to in terms of mindset?

VB: I think we just can't have the mindset that we can be satisfied with certain results. For example, the result last weekend. We can't accept that that is where we are. We always need to try for more. I think that's the thing that always needs to push for – something further and something beyond what we're at the moment achieving.

Q: Thank you, Valtteri. Good luck this weekend. Yuki, coming to you. So it got a bit spicy between you and Daniel after the chequered flag last weekend. What was going on there?

Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, we talked about it after the race with the whole team and we're still unified and, you know, we're on the same page now. We understand each other. So, yeah, I think that's it really.

Q: Did it just reflect your frustration about team orders?

YT: At that moment, yes. But in the end I understand what they're saying. And yeah, I think that's it. It obviously wasn't an easy race in the end. So, I think that's it, yeah.

Q: And what about the pace of the car?

YT: Pace was good. Pretty happy with the pace. I think I was fighting in the top 10. So, yeah, definitely there's a pace and we saw it in qualifying as well. We ended up quite close to the P10 as well. So that was good. So I enjoyed the first half. And yeah, obviously, lots of things to take from there as a positive and obviously for the future as well.

Q: And if, Yuki, there are team orders again this weekend, will it be a smoother thing for you to get your head around?

YT: Yeah. 100%.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) I'll start with Yuki, if I may, and I'm sure we'll have time to talk to the other guys as well. You seem a lot more calm about team orders now, but for 12th place, was it really necessary? And why were the team imposing team orders for what was a scrap for 12th place? And were you on the verge of getting Kevin, or had you been tucked behind him for a while? Just talk us through that a bit?

YT: Yeah, I think we were on a different strategy to Daniel. And he had new tyres. Well, he had Soft tyres. And I was fighting with Kevin. So obviously, he had more free air and he had more pace. And I think probably the team thought Daniel had more pace and there's more chance to overtake Kevin. So they asked me to swap the position. Yeah, I think that's it. Yeah, in the moment, I was a bit heated. I was quite getting heating moments in my brain. But yeah, I still, in the end, let him through, probably a lap later or half a lap later. So probably that was the thing. So in the end, the team thought they had more chance, and I respect that, yeah.

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg – Viaplay) For George. The F1 media, everybody's obsessed with the possibility, obviously, of Max going to Mercedes. How would you feel if a driver who had some choice words for you a year ago would join the team?

GR: Yeah, I think, as I said last week in Bahrain, this is my third season now alongside Lewis, the greatest driver of all time, and I feel like I've done a pretty good job alongside him. So whoever were to line up alongside me next year or the years to come, I welcome anybody, welcome the challenge. You always want to go against the best, but ultimately for me, I’m just focused on myself. I believe in myself. I believe I can beat anybody on the grid. And, you know, you’ve just got to have that mentality. So, as I said, having Lewis as my benchmark for the last couple of years has been a pretty good benchmark for sure.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) But what chance, George? What chance of Max Verstappen really going to Mercedes? From the inside, could you see it happening? Because it would be probably the biggest story since your current team-mate signed for Ferrari.

GR: I think any team wants to have the best driver line-up possible. And right now, Max is the best driver on the grid. So if any team had a chance to sign Max, they would 100% be taking it. So I think the question is more on the other side, on his side and Red Bull's side. Obviously so much going on there. We don't know what truly is going on behind closed doors and ultimately it's none of our business right now. Yeah, I guess we'll be excited.

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg - Viaplay) For Charles, how difficult is it when you only have Bahrain as a data set to either be optimistic about the season or be pessimistic? It must be mentally tough.

CL: To be honest, I don't think it's tough because I don't think about it too much. I'm just focusing on our own performance. We've got plenty of things to deal with at the moment inside the team, whether, as I was saying earlier, the future development is very clear, what are the areas we need to work on our car. So we are really focusing on that. But we are in a positive moment for the team after yesterday. the good momentum that we've had in the second part of last year to this year where we've had a pretty good winter where we've hit all our targets that we had given us and the car is again doing exactly what we wanted. so now we are just excited to be back out on track to get some other data to obviously bring the upgrades as quickly as possible and to hopefully put Max under a bit more pressure than now.

Q: (Wafa Soqar – BeIn Sports) Charles, the last few days were enough for you and the team to prepare for this round? And what are Ferrari fans waiting from you and from the team in general?

CL: Yeah, as I was saying, our main point of focus in the last few days were the brakes as we've had some issues in Bahrain. So we've been working on that. But we feel ready. And yeah, we will see. I mean, I don't know what to expect yet. As I said, it's difficult to judge after only one race. So we'll have to wait and see. But you can expect us giving our best to try and challenge for the win for sure.

Q: Charles, did you have any brake issues during the test?

CL: No, there are always fine tunings that you have to do, which we did. But no, we didn't have any issues like I've had on the race.

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg – Viaplay) Question for Lance and for Valtteri. F1 currently is experiencing a moment that everybody's talking about a lot more what happens off track than on. As a driver, how do you look at that and is this healthy for F1, for you both?

LS: I just like driving cars.

VB: Yeah, same for me. In the end, we are here to do our job, which is what we love, which is to race. And there's always talk in this sport, sometimes more, sometimes less. I feel like this year, off track, maybe a bit much. But I mean, if people read those things, then it's a good thing for the media, right?

Q: Nico, let's bring you in on this. What do you think?

NH: The stuff that happens in the paddock right now? Obviously, I'm not really affected. I read it, I see it, but I think we are, when you're active, you're so focused on what you do that you don't really buy into it. Obviously, I'm not up there, so I'm even less affected. I don't really have an interest or an agenda there. So, yeah, not much to say.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1). You all did 57 laps. Everyone did 57 laps, apart from those that were lapped on Saturday in Bahrain. You all went into the race optimistic, I'm sure, because it was the first race of the season. How was your optimism levels at the chequered flag? That's to all of you.

YT: For us, it was, I think, better than we thought, actually, after we changed a lot of things in our teams. And we were expecting slightly low, being realistic. But actually, pace was really, really good. I think better than we thought and I think we're more confident towards the end of the season in terms of development because of a lot of new people. So you're just now focusing to all the people to blend in to our new team and hopefully from three, four races onwards those people can actually push flat out then maximise their performance.

VB: Definitely more optimistic than after the qualifying. Obviously, for my race, it's difficult to say with all the things happening. But my team-mate managed to deliver a solid race from where he started. So yeah, more optimistic than after qualifying.

LS: Yeah, I think still a bit of work to do on Sundays, for sure. had a car that was pretty quick on Saturday [sic], and then Sunday [sic], McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari, they were all a bit quicker than us. But, yeah, first race of the season, so we'll see how we go here.

VB: Yeah, good. Optimism level is good. 7-8, I would say.

GR: I think after three days of testing, everybody knows Bahrain pretty well. It all panned out as we probably expected. But obviously, we all hope that the field tightens up a little bit right at the front. But the fight behind Max, I think, is really, really tight. And it's going to be quite exciting between ourselves, Ferrari, Aston and McLaren.

CL: Yeah, optimistic. I mean, again, after the first race where I don't feel like we could really show our true potential, I'm really looking forward to this weekend where hopefully we can put everything together and hopefully be closer to Max than what we have shown in Bahrain.

Q: (Diego Mejia – Fox Sports Mexico) Both Charles and George, about the issues you had with the cooling, with the brakes and the power unit, is that a worry here? Was it probably the changing conditions in Bahrain that caused for that, that we had probably the lowest temperature before the race weekend started and then it was increasing over the race weekend?

CL: I mean, on my side, it wasn't down to the overheating or whatsoever. It was just an issue that we've never had before. And that was obviously very costly in terms of times, especially in the first half of the race, where it was extremely difficult to drive. But no, I don't expect it to happen again this weekend. GR: Yeah, similar to Charles, it was definitely a bit of an odd one for us, but we're confident we're on top of it and won't face the same issue this weekend.

Q: (Roldan Rodriguez – DAZN Spain) Question to Charles. In Bahrain, apparently the car was very good on braking and especially in high-speed corners. Do you think here you can be even closer to Red Bull?

CL: I don't know. I mean I don't think this is our main strength. Yeah, I felt like it was more the medium-speed where we were strong. And I think also historically, we have always been quite strong in Bahrain. So I'll prefer to wait a few more races to judge what our weaknesses, what our strong points, as it's probably too early to say for now.

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg – Viaplay) Question for Valtteri. We've seen some very interesting renders of the future of the Saudi Grand Prix. Can you weigh in a little bit on what you've seen for the new track that's being built?

VB: What I've seen looks pretty cool, like it's a massive roller coaster. I think it's the track actually with the most elevation by far on the calendar. So, yeah, looks exciting. Obviously, we still have to wait for quite a few years, but and yeah, there's been definitely good people behind the project in terms of the track design and all that. And looks almost like a video game, you know, but for real life. So looking forward.

Q: (Samarth Kanal – The Race) A question for all five of you or anyone who wants to answer it. The FIA is apparently considering doing away with five-second track limit penalties, replacing them with 10-second penalties. How do you feel about that?

CL: It sounds quite harsh. I think it is quite harsh. But I think the main priority should be in fixing or helping us at least respecting those track limits better because at the moment the way the white lines are we don't really see it. So I felt like five seconds was quite painful already. Ten seconds is, in my opinion, too much.

GR: Yeah, as Charles said, I think it's difficult to really comprehend from a television how difficult it is from within the car. You're sat so low, you only see the top 15 centimetres of your tyres and the cars are running, you know, 70 millimetres from the ground or whatever they are, even less at the end of a straight so we need a kerb that we can feel and ultimately some tracks we go to there are no track limit issues whatsoever. it's only a handful of circuits that we see a lot of track limits issues. So we just need to find a way to solve it.

Q: Nico, would a 10-second penalty change the way drivers approached what they did?

NH: This is about track limits? Yeah. I think so, yeah. A more severe penalty. It is true, it is difficult to see, but yet, you know, I think we do have a feel. Some tracks are better than others, but I think that would force us, you know, to be more careful, for sure. So, why not?

LS: I got nothing really more to add. I think it's a bit harsh but I mean , yeah, if you go off the track you get a penalty and whether it's five seconds, 10 seconds I mean yeah I think you know we're all pushing and all trying to stay in the track limits. I think some of the bigger issues are actually how the track limits situation is… At a lot of the tracks we go to, I think if we change the actual nature of a lot of the tracks and make it a little bit easier to stay in the track limits, but also just maybe more penalising if you go off the track limits – gravel, grass – we'd have less of these issues in the first place.

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 06: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 attends the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 06, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Question to George, please. I think it was this time last week you were talking about the new Mercedes bouncing. I wonder if you could just describe what that feels like to you inside the car. Is it the same or a different sensation to what you talked about a lot in 2022? And did it get any better over the Bahrain race weekend?

GR: I think all of the teams have got a pretty good handle on the bouncing now, and we can probably expose the limitation or shy away from it. But as we know, with the ground effects cars, you want to get the car as low as possible to the ground and as stiff as possible, which has compromises. So the feeling pretty much is very similar to what you felt over the last two years, but just to a much lesser extent. But as I said, I think for all of the teams, you'll see some former bounce net points throughout this year.

Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) A question for you, Yuki. You've made no secret of the fact that you want to be a Red Bull driver next season. However, you've just conceded in the press conference earlier that you had a heated moment in the brain with regard to the incident in Bahrain. Why would Red Bull want to sign a driver that still struggles to contain his emotions in the car, as we've seen in the past? And what do you feel you have to prove to them over the remainder of this season to show that you are worthy of that second seat? Thank you.

YT: Yeah, definitely. It's the thing I have to improve for sure. And yeah, I mean, if I do those things again, for sure, it will be more issues. And I know these are things I have to improve mainly. So yeah, I'm working on it. And yes, I'll show improve. Need more than two steps, you know, not just like one step, for example. And I have confidence that I can prove that. And it's up to them if they want me or not, I think, for the rest of the things. But yeah, mainly focusing on those self-controllers. Other than that, I have pretty good confidence. I'm achieving most of it, and I just keep improving.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) George, a question for you. There was a BBC Sport report in the last few days saying that the FIA president is being investigated over an alleged interference with the race result here last year. You were the driver that initially benefited from Fernando's penalty moving up to third before going back down to fourth. I know this does not involve Mercedes directly, but from a sporting point of view and for you as a director of the GPDA, how concerned are you by this report?

GR: Yeah, I think we want to see all of the facts and just have total transparency, really. We're all racing here. We want a fair and level playing field for us to showcase what we can do. I can't really comment further. We were surprised a year ago when the result got overturned, as the legal team at Mercedes thought they did a great job of, you know, presenting our case and initially winning the case and then losing it thereafter. So, you know, we just want to see transparency and have the opportunity to race on a fair playing field.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A question to Charles, George and to Nico, please. There seemed to be a bit of chatter after the race and after the whole weekend in Bahrain that perhaps the dirty air effect is becoming more of a topic again, that following is a little bit harder. I just wondered what was your experience of that in the race and is this going to be a topic for the season?

CL: I've heard that. However, on our side, this year is a little bit better compared to last year. So I don't know if it's part of the characteristics we have improved compared to last year, which made our car very difficult to drive. But this year, it's quite a bit better for us to follow. But yeah, it might not be the same for George.

GR: I wasn't following anyone, unfortunately.

CL: You followed me!

GR: Did I?

CL: Yes!

GR: Yeah, it was quite good on the first lap. No, I think there are some thoughts of this. I wouldn't say it's getting easier. It's either staying the same or getting slightly worse. But I think it's only natural as we're all moving further and further away from the initial regulation.

NH: Yeah, very much the same. It's probably car-dependent. Some cars take it better than others. I think, like George says, definitely not getting better. Maybe slightly worse, but it also depends. If you have a bunch of cars in front, so two, three, it makes it worse than just one. So several factors that play into that.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) George, I think just to direct Nelson's question from earlier to you, how do you feel currently about where F1 is at with all of the off-track drama going on? It does feel like there's a big cloud over the sport with everything going on off-track at the moment.

GR: Yeah, I think... Well, two things. I feel that the racing needs to be at the forefront of everything. And this is what we all love and what we're here to fight for. And it's a shame when that isn't the forefront of the media attention. But equally, Formula 1 is at the forefront of technology. I think from an entertainment standpoint, I think we've been really pushing the boundaries in the last few years. And we do need to create an environment that is inclusive for everybody. We're seeing the demographic change over the past couple of years, and it does need to be inclusive. So unfortunately, you need to have these hard conversations and questions. And going back to the earlier point, you want to see transparency within all of these reports, because ultimately, until we see the facts, we can't really comment. But yeah.

Q: I've got a question for all of you, regarding F1 Academy. The season kicks off here in Saudi. It's going to race alongside Formula 1 seven times this year. All of your teams are represented in the series. So Charles, we can just start with you. How important do you feel F1 Academy is?

CL: It is super important to see this new series with all the Formula 1 teams involved. I think it's amazing and also to give the chance to all these women that are hoping to one day join Formula 1 and to give them a platform in order they can show what they are really capable of. So I think it's a great thing for sure. Yeah, it's good.

GR: Yeah, following on from what Charles said, really, I think it's really great that Formula 1 are given the chance for these women to showcase their talents. And with all of the Formula 1 teams backing and supporting them, extra visibility racing on Formula 1 race weekends, I think it's just the beginning of a lot of great things to come.

NH: Copy, paste.

Q: What about your own words, Nico?

NH: Yeah, it's the same. It's going to be interesting and fascinating to see when they're here alongside us. We also have one, so I'll be watching.

Q: Lance?

LS: I think most of it's been said. It's great for the sport. It expands the sport. And I'll be like Nico watching the races if we can.

Q: Valtteri?

VB: Along the same lines. I mean, I think it's awesome. It's really great to see and a great platform. So we'll be watching.

Q: And Yuki.

YT: Yeah, very same as others. But, yeah, great. Can't wait to see my livery, you know, our livery, you know, and see the racing. And, yeah, I think it will be a great, great series.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Just on the fight with Carlos last weekend, it looked pretty exciting from our point of view, but noticeably less frantic, perhaps, or on the edge than what happened in Monza last year. There's that scene in Drive to Survive where you guys talk about how you race each other. What was the thinking in terms of going wheel to wheel with Carlos? Is it any different to how it was before?

CL: No, I think we are always trying to fight on the limit, obviously keeping in mind that Ferrari comes first and we cannot take unnecessary risks. Again, on my side, I wasn't really in a position to be fighting properly, as we had quite a bit of issues to manage. Yeah, at the end it's a balance and sometimes we might go a bit more over the limit and be a bit too aggressive and then we'll have a discussion and we'll recenter that. And that's what we've done in the years we have been competing together. But I don't remember any time where it went as far of having a problem between us. So that is a good thing and it should stay that way. But I have no doubt on that. We have also a very good relationship outside the car, so we are very open and very honest with ourselves, so we have this discussion very often. So yeah, it's all about finding the right balance, but I think we did.

Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafé) Last Wednesday, you spoke about what Daniel does well – he remains calm, he provides good feedback and that there are things that you can learn from him. What are you doing to gain these skills?

YT: It’s still a learning process and probably what I showed in the Sunday was opposite, or Saturday, sorry. But I just keep reminding myself just before I jump into the car, ‘not pressing radio’, but also like, just those things, I think also they love to pick myself, to be honest, in those radio [messages]. Yeah, I mean, I'm not that shouting, you know, like that looks in the radio, on the TV. I don't know, the more I say, it's getting worse. So I'm just going to say I’ll just try my best to improve. And you'll see it on the track from these races onwards.

Q: (Luke Smith – The Athletic) Nico, it's a question for you. I just wanted to ask how you found working with Kevin over the past 12 months or so. You guys are in very similar positions in your careers, very similar career trajectories going in and out of Formula 1. So what's it been like as his team-mate?

NH: It's been good. It's been pretty positive and smooth. No problems, friction or whatever, because a lot of people were obviously maybe expecting that because of the story five years ago. But quite the opposite is the same. We've actually... yeah, I don't know, bonded really well and work well together, I feel. On track, you know, there have been a few situations last year, you know, where we don't even hold each other up when we know we're in different tyres, different strategies, and it doesn't even need a radio call. On the setup side and what we want from the car, I think we're also pretty aligned and work in the same direction. So, yeah, very good, yeah.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Charles, what's it take to be quick around a lap here? You were in the pole fight in 2022. Same last year though you were saddled with a penalty, so what’s key to being quick in Jeddah?

CL: I guess being precise. I don't think it's much different than other tracks. The only thing that is different here is that the walls are pretty close and it's also reliant on how much a driver is taking risk and how close to the limits you are going to get, because whenever you overstep it then that's it. That's the end of the session. But it's something that I really enjoy. City tracks are definitely my favourites, at least for the qualifying lap. It always makes things exciting. But yeah, probably precision and the risk you are willing to take.

Q: And do you have to build up to it over the weekend, whereas at a track like Bahrain, you might push harder sooner?

CL: Yes, you do. You have to go through that step-by-step approach, like on every city track, because as I was saying, whenever you go over the limits, it depends on where exactly on track, but very often that ends up in the wall. And it's not what you want on a city track. So especially with the track evolution that is always bigger, the more laps you do, the more track evolution you feel, and the more you can put the car in the right window for qualifying and for that lap in Q3. So every lap is important and that approach is needed.

Q: Can we just get a word on the two new team principals this year? Yuki, why don't we start with you? The impact you feel Laurent Mekies has had on RB and how you felt his presence over that first Grand Prix weekend?

YT: We have very good relationship and definitely already he is helping quite a lot with things to improve our team. Obviously there are a bit of similarity between Franz and Laurent, that those two, they really care about each person in the team and I think each person's comments count and he tries to blend in all of it and make the best answer as much as possible. So I think there are similarities. Actually, I didn't feel [it was] hard towards him, like, struggling to adapt to him or whatever. We just straight up had a good relationship and I think we’re the whole team in the right way and right mood. And yeah, it's definitely not easy job right now to, you know, blend all the people in, to make sure everyone's feeling comfortable, because there's lots of new people coming. But so far, what I saw in the team, everyone seems happy and very, very relaxing, comfortable to work together.

Q: And was Laurent helpful in the way that he dealt with your frustrations after the race on Sunday [sic]?

YT: Yeah, definitely he came straight into my room after the race. And we talked about it quite long. Mainly understanding each person's perspective, his side and my side. And yeah, he definitely makes me much calmer when I was in the race. And he definitely helped me to face the right direction. And I'm feeling reset now and yeah, just move on from there. So yeah, he’s kind of like that, it's a bit similar to Franz, you know, if the same thing happens, Franz will come straight to my room immediately. So, yeah, feeling good.

Q: And Niko, Ayo Komatsu?

NH: Yeah, obviously he didn't have to settle or get to know the team, but I think he settled in well into his new position. He got thrown in the cold water, definitely. Obviously, a lot of new responsibilities and things he has to do now that are new to him. But so far, I think he's doing a very good job taking it all in, looking for the fastest way to performance, but then also medium and long term. He's got a lot of interesting and good ideas. So, yeah, it's quite refreshing and feels positive so far.

Q: Similarities between him and Guenther?

NH: None. Pretty different.

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