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United States preview quotes - Williams, Haas, Sauber, Mercedes & more

19 Oct 2016

The Formula One paddock moves from Asia to the Americas for the next three rounds of the season, starting with next weekend's 2016 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin. Those involved look forward to the event...

Williams

Valtteri Bottas

“Austin is a great city and the people are very nice. Normally the weather is very good – except last year when it was a little bit different! We didn’t manage to score there in 2015 because of the DNF with both cars, but it should be a pretty good track for us when we go there again and try and get some good points. I still remember COTA fondly because it was where I picked up my first ever points in Formula One in 2013, so it’s always nice to go back there. Overall, as a race weekend, with the fans and everything going on it’s one of the best races to go to. It’s a special Grand Prix.”

Felipe Massa

“Of all the newer tracks COTA is the one I enjoy the most. It’s a really nice track to drive because you have everything; high speed corners, low speed corners and the long straight, which is good for overtaking. I also really enjoy Austin itself. It’s a very nice city with good restaurants and an amazing atmosphere during the race weekend. I’ve managed to get good results there in the past so hopefully I can enjoy a great race this year.”

Pat Symonds

“Austin is one of those modern tracks that has been built to really stretch both the driver and the car. After turn one, the succession of corners is reminiscent of the first part of Suzuka and just as challenging, may be even more so than that classic track. Whilst last year’s event was severely disrupted by weather, we hope for a more straightforward weekend this time around. Apart from the weather, one of the surprise features last year was how bumpy the circuit had become in just twelve months. We certainly are hoping that it hasn’t degraded any further as last year was a challenge, and ultimately led to the retirement of both our cars. That aside, we hope the circuit will reward our new power unit upgrade being introduced for this event.”

Haas

Romain Grosjean

“When I started in Formula One I thought it’ll just be one race after the other, then here we are at 100 Grands Prix, 10 podium finishes, a few points and lots of good memories, and some a little more difficult. The good thing is, I don’t know when I’m going to stop, but I think I’ve still got plenty of room in front of me to keep going and to keep trying to win. Definitely 100 Grands Prix is quite something in my lifetime.

“I think (this weekend)’s going to be great. I’m very much looking forward to it. America is a huge country and I’m really hoping we can get a lot of fans. Yes, there’ll be an extra pride to be driving for an American team on the circuit, and hopefully getting a good result on Sunday.

“It’s not that simple to overtake at COTA. You’ve got a huge straight line on the back straight, which helps, of course, with the DRS. The braking into Turn 1 is very wide and you can have some chances there. But, on the other hand, it’s very hard to follow in sector one, and into that very long right-hand side corner before the last two corners.

“(Last year’s event) was wonderful. We had a lot of fans and people really came to see the race. It’s a great venue and one of the best new tracks we’ve had in quite a while. The track was great, the city is nice, and it was a very nice experience. There are a lot of bars and concerts going on in the city, and people came from all over the country to see the race. It was amazing.”

Esteban Gutierrez

“It’s important to represent America around the world, but now that we get back home and go to Austin for the US Grand Prix, it’s something very special because we are on American soil. That gives a special touch to our weekend. More motivation and great energy from the people to achieve a fantastic result.

“I thought (the venue) was fantastic (last year). It was the United States Grand Prix, but it was also like a Mexican Gran Prix. A lot of Mexicans went there. It’s not far away from my hometown, and that made it a very nice combination because America makes very great events and the atmosphere was very special. I could not have asked for a better experience. Now that we have a full United States Grand Prix and then a full Mexican Grand Prix, the experiences are more intense.

“I love the centre of (Austin) and the vibe that’s going on around the whole weekend. In the first year I was there I was the third driver, so in the same kind of way I lived the first season of the Mexican Grand Prix, I lived the Austin Grand Prix. It was really special going around the restaurants and having all the people, everything full and a great atmosphere.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

“I hope we can do well in Austin like we did in Japan, but nothing is for sure. You know, everybody else will do a good job. So, we will see where we come out. The thing is we know the car can be quick. We just need to get the best out of it.

“We want to show well and do a good job, and what we mainly want to do is attract more of the public to not only watch Haas F1 Team, but to come out and watch F1 in general. I hope a lot of people are following us. We will see on Sunday.

“(Austin)’s a cool city. People like the United States and Austin is a nice place to be. I think Austin for the team members stands before Monaco and Singapore because it’s just a cool place.”

Gene Haas, team founder and Chairman

“As an American team, having an F1 race on American soil is incredibly important. We come to COTA having scored some points and proving that we can hold our own with the established teams of Formula One. We’re looking forward to our first home race.”

 

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“I believe we all remember the rather unusual United States Grand Prix due to the heavy rain in 2015. I am looking forward to going back this year, as I like this track a lot. It is a nice event at the circuit, and, as well as that, Austin is a great place to be. Looking back to the previous race weekends, we clearly made steps in the right direction, but we still need to find more pace in order to fight for points.”

Felipe Nasr

“Last year’s United States Grand Prix was quite eventful, as the weather conditions led to an exciting race. Finishing in P9 was a nice achievement, bearing in mind that it was the 400th GP for Sauber. Thinking about this year, I am very much looking forward to racing on this great track again. I will do the best I can for us to achieve a similar result to last year, as scoring points is obviously our objective. I am confident that we are keeping working to improve the Sauber C35-Ferrari, in order to make further steps to be more competitive.”

 

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg

“It was a great week, heading back to the UK with the constructors’ championship in the bag and celebrating with all our colleagues at Brackley and Brixworth. They’ve worked so hard and really deserve this moment. It’s job done in that battle for this year - but I know they’re already focused on 2017. We’ve got four more races left of this season for everyone to hopefully enjoy some great action on track - starting of course in Austin this weekend. It’s a great circuit, with some really challenging sections and a few good opportunities for overtaking. The city itself is awesome and I’m sure everyone in the paddock looks forward to this one. Last year this race obviously didn’t work out so great for me, so I’ m looking forward to getting back out there and doing my best to get it right this time. Hopefully we won’t have the same weather as last year - that was pretty crazy! Mostly I hope it stays dry for the fans: they were amazing waiting out in the rain last time, so they’re owed a nice dry weekend I think! They give us such great hospitality that they deserve an exciting show, so we’ll do our best to provide that.”

Lewis Hamilton

“Seeing all the guys and girls at the factory last week really brought home just what we’ve achieved together this year. They’ve worked so damned hard to give Nico and me this great car and you can see how much it means to them. We’ve got four races left to make the most of it and that’s exactly what I plan to do. It’s just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there. I’ll be holding nothing back out there. First up, we’re back in the States - which is like a second home race for me these days. I love the country, the culture, the people and the track, so I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got some great memories from Austin, with three wins from four races and, of course, the title win last year. That was one of the highlights of my career, no doubt. It’s almost like the American fans have adopted me as their own, so I’ll try to channel all of that positive energy into this weekend.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Last week was a fitting way to mark a great achievement by the hundreds of men and women who made this triple championship a reality. But that was last week. We now look only forwards and our priority over the coming weeks is to give both our boys the best possible chance of winning the remaining four races. The title is purely between them, which is fantastic news for the team as we can be happy whatever the final outcome. However, the pressure is on to ensure that their battle is decided man-to-man, and hopefully wheel-to-wheel, on the race track. We may already have celebrated our championship success as a team - but we have a responsibility to the drivers and will not let anything distract us from the job at hand. Likewise, we have an entirely new challenge to prepare for in 2017. While we savour these moments, it’s going to be a long, hard winter ahead. There is much work to be done in the coming weeks and months - but also plenty of excitement on the way I’m sure.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Looking ahead to Austin, we’ll be hoping for some drier weather than last year - which won’t be difficult, given the torrential rain which simply didn’t stop until Sunday last time around! The weather conditions in 2015 have also had a knock-on effect in that we actually have very little up-to-date data from which to establish the performance of the car and the tyres at this circuit. Teams will therefore have to work on the basis of records from 2014, which is an unusual challenge heading into a race weekend. We have the medium, soft and supersoft tyre compounds available this weekend, which will likely produce some quicker lap times than those previously seen at this circuit. It’s a great track, with interesting elevation changes, tricky sequences of corners providing a good all-round test of power and cornering, with some prime overtaking opportunities too. In its short history to date, this track has always produced exciting races - not least last year, which saw multiple changes of the lead. There are plenty of enthusiastic fans who come from all across Northern and Central America, which is great to see. We know how dedicated they are, having seen them standing out in the rain last year waiting until the bitter end for the show to continue. We look forward to going back to Austin and putting on another great event in this very welcoming city.”

 

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“The significance of the United States both as a race and a market for us goes without saying, especially with the opening of our first P Zero World store in Los Angeles earlier this year. The 2015 Grand Prix was particularly challenging because of the weather, meaning that the teams are lacking recent data on the slick compounds at Austin. We’re also bringing the supersoft to the track for the very first time. As a result, the free practice sessions in particular will be extremely important this year, with the optimal strategy yet to be defined.”

 

Renault

Kevin Magnussen

“I do love the United States and I know it well from visiting many times. The race in Austin is a great event and the circuit is really good. The fans really get behind you and I’m sure they’ll be out in force as the weather looks like it will be a lot better than all the rain we saw last year!

“The start-finish with the big climb at the end is pretty notable then there’s a fast and flowing section that follows - and that’s pretty fun. It’s a good layout that has quite a few different challenges and we have seen some decent racing there. Overtaking is possible and there can be a variety of tyre strategies too, so I think we could have a fun race.

“There are a few areas we’re looking at for Austin and I also get a new floor, which usually helps with the overall balance.”

Jolyon Palmer

“It looks like a great track and it looks like one of the best modern layouts so I’m looking forward to getting out there. In the sim it seems quite tricky with a nice bit of undulation, some blind corners and some good meaty fast corners so it should be a good challenge to drive. I’ve never driven it before so it’s going to be another occasion when I learn it on the Friday.

“Austin itself is a fantastic city, the countryside in Texas is superb and the people are so welcoming. There is a lot more Formula One knowledge than I expected as you always think NASCAR or IndyCar when you think of motorsport in the US.

“My problem with the US is the food; there are too many temptations! This is tough as I have to watch my weight so closely. I’d love to be tucking into ribs and burgers all the time! Aside from trying to keep away from the food, it really is a nice place to go racing. It’s something different, especially to be in Texas, there’s a great atmosphere there. Last year we had huge downpours, which was a shame so I’m hoping for some good weather this year and a big crowd!”

Nick Chester, technical director

“It’s all about maximising what we have. There are a few minor aero bits we will have on the car that are just the final elements of the R.S.16 development programme. In addition we are making progress on set-up and tyre management, especially tyre management for qualifying.

“There’s nothing about the layout to cause alarm for our car so looking at the simulations we could have a decent race. It’s a nice smooth circuit with a high-speed first sector incorporating a lot of fast-flowing corners - the type of which have turned out okay for our car of late. If you look at the rest of the circuit too we are predicting a Sepang / Suzuka level of performance from the R.S.16.”

 

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“It’s great to go back to North America - Austin is a really cool place and I’m pleased we’re returning there after a bit of uncertainty following last year’s event. It’s a Grand Prix in which you never really know what to expect, and I would say that last year I had one of my favourite races because, despite having a puncture on lap two, we were able to push and make progress through the field, which was hugely satisfying from behind the wheel. The weather can always give us a few surprises and the track temperature often changes a lot from session to session, so I hope we can find a good set-up early on and improve our pace as the weekend progresses.

“The Circuit of The Americas is a big challenge for every car - each sector offers something completely different. The first section requires a lot of precision, as it’s a big climb up to the first corner, which you go into blind. The elevation changes put a lot of pressure on the car and it’s important to get good traction out of each corner. It’s a really exhilarating circuit to drive and you need to work hard at every braking point to keep good momentum around the circuit, as the rhythm is constantly changing along with the elevation as you go around the lap.”

Jenson Button

“I’m looking forward to heading back to Austin. I’ve been spending more and more time in the States recently and Austin is a city with passionate fans that really love their racing. The atmosphere downtown is really relaxed and we usually take the opportunity to sample the famous Texan cuisine in one or two of the restaurants over the course of the weekend. I’ve always liked racing at this circuit and we managed to put up a good fight last year despite not having the best outright pace, so I’m hoping for more of the same and a bit of a boost after the disappointment of our result in Japan.

“COTA is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, and has a bit of everything: fast corners, slow corners and heavy braking zones, so you need a car with good balance, which tends to be one of the strengths of our car. There’s lots of fast, sweeping corners in the first sector, the long straight in the second sector, and then the infield section in the final sector which is tight and twisty with long apexes and high g-forces. You really need to prepare the car for everything! For a driver it’s great fun and I hope we enjoy a better result there than in Suzuka.”

Eric Boullier, Racing Director

“It’s no secret that we didn’t achieve the results we were looking for at Suzuka, and since returning from Japan we’ve been working hard to find the appropriate solutions to avoid a continuation of this in Austin. The Circuit of The Americas is a very different challenge in its configuration, so we hope we’ll be able to see improved performance there. However, we mustn’t be complacent, and instead keep fighting hard as we have been all year to get the best out of our package and its strengths as we head into the final back-to-back races of the season.

“Achieving a delicate compromise to suit the varying demands of this track - fast corners, slow corners, and a long straight – will be the key to maximising our performance, and we’ll be working hard to find the right balance and set-up as soon as we hit the track on Friday. The first few sessions are always unpredictable as we dial in the car to the ever-changing temperatures at different times of the day, and the autumn weather often gives us the opportunity to throw any dry-weather run plan out of the window!

“Everyone at McLaren-Honda is very pleased to be returning to Austin for the United States Grand Prix. It’s fast becoming a classic racetrack, there’s a great atmosphere, and the fans’ love of racing is palpable throughout the weekend. We always receive a very warm welcome from the Austinites and the US is a very important market for us to bring our show to every season. I hope we can provide more great racing for the crowd again this year and give our fans something to be proud of.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"After an intense Asian round of races, we now head off to the Circuit of The Americas where the racing is tight and we see good overtaking on track, making for interesting racing. There is plenty of variation on track with great hard braking corners, an undulating ‘S’ curve and slow twisting turns, so it will be important to us to refine and tune the power unit properly for each of these sectors.

“McLaren-Honda had good race here last year, and we hope we can do the same to target finishing in the points."

 

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat

“I think the Circuit of The Americas is a bit of a combination of a few other circuits: a very mixed circuit, with fast and slow parts - it's an impressive one.

“I always lose a kilo of weight on purpose before this race to be able to regain it there and eat loads of meat - some ribs with some delicious barbecue sauce! I'm also staying and not flying to the next race until Tuesday afternoon - I will eat more ribs! (Laughs)

“(Austin,) it's small but… very cute! There are a few nice things to do there. I like going shopping to some of the few shopping centres there when we have a bit of spare time.”

Carlos Sainz

“Turns 16 to 18 remind me of that famous very long corner in Turkey, even though I've never raced there. What we don't like about it this year though are the long straights! And the rest of it we like, and a lot, don't we?! I also want to say that from all the new tracks that have been built recently, this one and Malaysia are two of the nicest.

“Another thing we can't forget about Texas are the barbecues! Last year I arrived there a day earlier just to be able to go and have a barbecue…! Everyone was talking about it, so I had to try!

“The city is actually quite small. There's a very big, long avenue where all the action takes place, with plenty of music - it's somewhere we might go on Sunday night, but not during the rest of the weekend. I like it there. After the race I'm staying in Austin for a couple of days with some friends, it will be fun!”

 

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

“The weekend in Austin is one of the coolest of the whole year. It’s an event that ticks all the boxes: the track is fun, the city is interesting and the people are great. There’s a brilliant atmosphere, which you can feel as soon as you land in the city, and I really enjoy going there.

“I think COTA is one of the best tracks among the recent introductions to the calendar – they did a superb job with the layout. Sector one is very quick, with a great flow and high speeds. The whole lap has a good rhythm and overtaking is possible so you usually see some great racing.

“Last year was a very weird race, with some crazy rain on Saturday. When you get really wet weather, it adds to the challenge, because you have to keep focus while waiting around for the sessions to restart. You need to switch off and then be able to switch on again, but that’s part of being a racing driver.”

Sergio Perez

“Before Mexico joined the calendar, Austin felt like a home race for me so I am always happy to go there, to be close to home and to be able to spend a bit of time with my family and friends at the circuit. I always have guests with me and there are so many fans who make the trip from Mexico to see the race in Austin.

“The city is really nice and you’re never short of things to do. The whole place comes alive at night and there are so many bars and restaurants to enjoy. Of course, being there to race means we do not really get the chance to go out much, but even going for a walk gives you an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere and see all the fans. It’s a young city, with many students, and that gives it a nice vibe.

“The circuit is incredible. The facilities are impressive and once the racing starts the atmosphere is really cool. It’s quite different from your average Formula One environment and makes for a very welcome change.

“Turn one is very tricky: you get to the top of the hill and the apex is blind, so you can’t really see where you’re going or the best line into the corner. You take a leap of faith and just go for it, and if you hesitate it’s very easy to turn in too late and lose precious time. You just need to get your calculations right.

“There are many corners inspired by other tracks - you get hints of Monza in the big braking zones, a reminder of Silverstone in the fast corners and it makes for a very interesting lap. Last year’s weekend was very difficult, with the weather stopping us from doing much practice, but we came away with a good result in the end and hopefully we can score strongly again this year.”

Vijay Mallya, team principal

“Malaysia and Japan were positive races for us. We were close to maximising our potential at each of those events and that’s all we can do at this stage of the season. Sepang and Suzuka provide a tough test of a Formula One car and our strong form is a good sign for the races to come.

“We’re in the middle of a very busy spell for the sport with four races within a month. The motivation and belief in the team are high and the visit to North America is always a highlight of the year. At such a busy time, it’s important to keep focus: the margins between success and failure are very small and we need to perform at the top of our game in every area. I’m proud of the job we are doing and excited about the challenge ahead of us.”

 

Manor

Pascal Wehrlein

“I’m really excited about heading to the US, Mexico and Brazil. The cities are really cool – places I really want to visit and explore – and the circuits are a mix of new and traditional. So it’s going to be fun.

“I like the look of the section from Turns 12-15 – very much like the stadium section at Hockenheim, so that gets a thumbs-up before I’ve even started running there. I think the sensation of heading through the start-finish straight and up the steep hill to Turn 1 is going to be really cool as well and then there are some other sections that are reminiscent of other circuits, like Silverstone, so it seems that it has a bit of everything. The weather can be quite mixed there - judging by what I saw there last year - so it will be interesting working with the tyres I think. I can’t wait.”

Esteban Ocon

“I’m really getting into a good rhythm now. At first it was not easy, stepping into a new car mid-season, but every race things are improving and when we have a nice run-up to race day, I can really show what I can do. So, yes, another strong weekend in Austin would be good.

“It looks pretty amazing. It’s the Live Music Capital of the World, so I’m hoping to experience that a little bit before the hard work starts for the weekend. And the Texas BBQ looks good too. I’ll give that a try, for sure!”

Jordan King (driving in FP1 only)

“First of all, I’d like to thank the team for making this possible. It’s another big step in the right direction for me, after two really positive tests in the MRT05 which paved the way for this opportunity. It’s a dream come true, but at the same time I have a job to do in the car on Friday and I want to make sure I give the team plenty of quality feedback and data to help with their USGP challenge.

“There’s quite a lot to cram into 90 minutes. I’ll be exploring the balance of the car and correlating that with the team’s simulation work. There’ll be some new components to evaluate, along with the tyre specifications for this event. I’ll also be learning the circuit and getting up to speed with the car, which has been developed quite a bit since I last drove it at Silverstone. I can’t wait!”

Dave Ryan, racing director

“Both race drivers will be looking to get the American rounds underway with a nice smooth weekend in Austin and we’ve done a lot of work since Japan to make sure that’s possible. It will be good to give Jordan his first FP1 session. He’s done a really great job in his Development Driver role and this opportunity was a planned part of his programme with us. We look forward to getting his feedback and this further opportunity to appraise his performance in the MRT05.”

 

Red Bull

Max Verstappen

“The COTA track is very special, it’s a new track but with a lot of old school corners in it (but with more run off) which makes it really cool to drive. Turn 1 has such a big radius it gives a lot of overtaking opportunities, and then the whole of the first sector has the S’s, it’s a bit like Silverstone or Suzuka. It is a really fun circuit to race. I had a good look around Austin last year and really liked it, I love America in general, the people are so friendly and I always feel comfortable and relaxed there. Burgers and meat, it is so good there. I will probably have to be a bit careful to watch my weight as you can eat so well in Austin. I am sure I will find time for a nice steak though.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“The track in Austin is sick, I love it. It has a lot of unique features like the wide apex at turn one, you could fit about four cars side by side through there. There are loads of opportunities to overtake and have fun throughout the whole track. It has fast flowing sections and hairpins, pretty much everything I like in a track. Austin city is also awesome, I really like its character. It’s raw and authentic which makes it cool without trying to be. The old school bars and music venues which are super cool just makes it work. Pete’s Piano bar and Rainey Street has a lot of local music which is a really nice vibe and I want to check out Hotel Vegas this year.”


More to follow.