Monday 30 November 2015

'The Distracted Champ' - BY Jake Davis

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Sunday 29 November 2015

FIA Post-Race Press Conference - TRANSCRIPT


1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Nico, that must taste good?

Nico ROSBERG: Delicious! The best ever!

Q: It’s been an incredible end to the season. This was, to me, your most dominant win of the season, so tell us a little bit about the race and the hunger you took into this final race of the season.

NR: No, I mean, yeah, Austin was sort of the low point of the season. It was a tough weekend and since then I’ve just come back a lot stronger and I’m very happy about that. I’m excited about how the end of the season went. Next year can come any moment. It could start tomorrow if it were for me, no problem, I don’t need any holidays! But, no, it’s great to end the season like this, go on holiday like this and thank you so much, you’ve been awesome again this weekend, for all your support and everything, thanks to my team, absolutely stunning car you’ve all given me again today – just unbelievable. Ecstatic.

Q: You mentioned Austin there. We could see the disappointment as the realisation the championship had slipped away at that race. Can you tell us a little bit, give the fans at home an insight. You’ve got the enemy within the team, you work together to develop this great product but your success is Lewis’ failure and his success is your failure. Can you give us an insight into how you manage that?  Because you guys have known each other since you were kids.

NR: Yeah, it’s always tough to race Lewis, he’s doing an awesome job and he’s one of the best out there, so an even better feeling to win, definitely against such opposition. It’s a great battle internally all the time. That’s what I race for, such battles, and I look forwards to more next year.

Q: Does that mean you guys can go and have dinner together now and reflect on what was an amazing season for the team?

NR: Let’s skip that part – maybe we’ll catch up in the Amber Lounge later on.

Q: Lewis, an amazing season for you – your World Champion Ladies and Gentleman – it’s been a great season for you, I couldn’t help but notice it doesn’t seem to have finished quite as strong as it started. We heard you mention that there have been some changed to the car and it hasn’t quite suited you but is it as simple as that or is there something else we need to know now the season’s over?

Lewis HAMILTON: Well, firstly it’s been an amazing – an amazing – year, and happy 44th UAE National Day. So happy to be here and celebrating it with the UAE, they’ve done an amazing job for this show – and what a great crowd we’ve had today. No man, it’s been a good year. I’m happy. I’m happy it’s over, for sure. So now we can really enjoy. I really have to take my hat off to this team who once again did an amazing job in building this car. The pitstops today, the performance through the whole year, they’ve surpassed their own expectations, our expectations, and so we’ve truly shown that Mercedes-Benz is the best team in the world. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Q: Just to touch on strategy, we heard you again on the radio, asking the team “can I go the distance on these tyres?” We know the team have to deliver the one-two result. Nico earned the pole, he was leading the race – is that just the inner racer in you? Even though you probably know ahead of time that there’s nothing that can be done, that’s why you’re pushing your engineers, pushing the team.

LH: No, I think in hindsight once Nico pitted I would probably have backed off a little bit and I would have made those tyres go a lot longer. The tyres were still fine at the end so I honestly felt that I could potentially have taken them to the end. But as that didn’t work out, going too long was probably not the right thing to do – but y’know, we gave it a try and did the best job I could with it.

Q: I’ll just come around to Kimi Räikkönen. Ladies and Gentlemen, statistically this is the most popular man in Formula One. You probably say less than any of the other drivers, so welcome back to the podium. It’s not been a great season for you but that was a World Champion’s drive today – so why has it taken so long in the season to deliver this great performance?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: I think we started better this season but obviously not been ideal this year. That’s how it goes sometimes. And y’know, the speed has been there but mistakes and problems and stuff like that. So the end result hasn’t been great many times but today, or this weekend, was a bit better. Everything was working well and things were running smoothly, car handling well, so, it was good – but obviously not enough still to beat these two but, y’know we did our best.

Q: Nico, finally with yourself, the smile says it all. The World Championship is the one thing… this is your 14th victory. You can take pole positions, you can win grands prix – how are you going to attack the winter and come back next year and try and beat this man?

NR: Well I look forward to it as I’m sure it’s going to be another great season next year. I’m sure the team is going to give us an awesome car again. Of course we’re aware of the threat from the red guys and we don’t them to come too close and we’ll give it everything over the winter. I’ll try to keep it going, the current form, starting next year.


Q: You knew what Lewis was doing, obviously, in terms of strategy in the final part of the Grand Prix, the offset on the tyres etc, and you responded. Are you pleased with the way you drove today?

NR: Yeah, for sure, ecstatic with the way it went, because really master-managed... controlled the pace through the race and managed my tyres and used them optimally and pushed all the way through to the end, so had good pace there with tyres that’s for sure and had a lot more laps on them than Lewis’s so very pleased with that, definitely.

Q: I wonder which of the two of you goes into the winter feeling the happier?

NR: I’m feeling very happy.

Q: Lewis, you’re a three time World Champion, it’s been a record-breaking year, which of the two of you goes into the winter feeling the happier?

LH: I think being World Champion sounds a lot better than winning the race, so that’s good.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your race because we were let in on quite a lot of radio, partly, as David Coulthard just referred to there, your question whether or not there was an argument for staying out, but also in the final stages there to do with the engine modes and some quite firm instructions from your engineer, what they wanted you to do. Maybe you could just let us into that a little bit and also from a strategy point of view, you pitted after Vettel who went onto supersofts and you put softs on, so maybe you could just explain that?

LH: Well, I just did what I was told pretty much, most of the time and then yeah, I tried as hard as I could in the first stint, I tried to keep a relatively decent gap to Nico, looking after my tyres and then my right front... or both fronts went off quite early and Nico was able to... in the clean air, was able to look after them. In the second stint I was quicker and getting close and then... I could make the tyres last longer, yeah, of course, but after that it was really down to the team, whether or not we went to the option or the other tyre. I’m not sure which one was better but the prime tyre was quite good. I’m not sure whether or not I could have taken it to the end but some part of me just wishes I’d just given it a go. But no, the engine modes were going up and down throughout the race, not really sure they were like that because they had lots of life left in my engine but I’ll ask when I get back to the debrief.

Q: Kimi, your third podium of this championship, you finished eleven seconds behind Lewis which is about 0.2s per lap over the Grand Prix distance here. Do you take encouragement from the way that Ferrari’s finished the last couple of races going into the winter and next year?

KR: I think the whole year, as a team, has been quite good comparing last year and obviously not so good for myself but the speed has been there and it’s just not been able to produce the results and having some issues and mistakes but this weekend has been pretty OK, the car’s been handling well. I think in the race we could have been quite a bit closer but we had some issues at both pit stops so we lost some time and then I slowed down a bit. But I think we had a reasonably good speed, they didn’t really pull away a lot from us. At certain points, I think we were catching them and then they were pulling out but not an awful lot in it. It’s never nice to finish third but I’ll take it after previous races. I guess it always could have been a better finish but OK, I think it was more or less what we expected to get.


Q: (Lennart Bernke – Bild) Nico, Lewis, will you get each other a Christmas present?

NR: Hmm, maybe a Christmas card.

LH:  I don’t think we’ve ever done either so there’s no reason to change.

Q: (Rami Akhawi – Car on Web) Nico, about next year, are we going to see you as a World Champion, because already you entered the season with great victories, so is it the same way to start 2016?

NR: Well, unfortunately 2016 is so far away. At the moment I’m just enjoying now, enjoying the wins. I’m going to party tonight, I’m enjoying the fun, enjoying that I progressed also a lot in the end of the season, too late for the championship of course, but so great now to have it and that’s it. I can’t tell you about next year unfortunately, but I’ll give it everything

Q: (Fadi Kallassina – Arab Shift) Lewis, what’s your feeling for not getting the first position with the 44 celebration national day?

LH: I’m really grateful to have been associated with the UAE with the 44th national day. Yeah, I’m still going for that 44th win. I’m quite happy with the amount of wins I’ve had in my career. Of course, I always want more but I have to be grateful for the ones I do have. Hopefully we’ve got another three years with this team so I’m looking forward to next year, to come back fit and healthy and let’s see what we can do next year.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, does it now, afterwards, feel any better to finish the season fourth (in the Drivers’ championship)  instead of being fifth and especially after being 12th last season?

KR: Not really. You guys have been asking between me and Valtteri for a long time and still it doesn’t make much difference to me. It’s not what you think, a Finnish championship, it’s a World Championship and there are winners it goes from there. If you don’t win, it doesn’t make an awful lot of difference if you’re second, wherever you finish. I’m happy to have had a kind of OK race in the last one but it doesn’t change anything really of how our season went, what to expect for next year. One of the better weekends but we’ll take it and go from here.

Saturday 28 November 2015

FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference


1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


Nico, six poles in a row at the end of the season – how have you done it?

Nico ROSBERG: Well, before it was close in the other direction and now its close in this direction. I’m quicker in the moment. I’m very pleased about that and enjoying the moment and happy to be in pole again.

Lewis, coming to you, obviously very string all weekend, strong in Q1, strong in Q2 but then in Q3 it sort of slipped away. Was there a reason for that in particular?

Lewis HAMILTON: Not really, I’ve generally been struggling with the car a bit all weekend. But we’ve been working really hard to make some changes; we’ve had to take something off the car but no, Nico was just really quick today and he did a great job in Q3.

OK, coming to you Kimi, close battle obviously with the Force India of Sergio Perez for the third place on the grid. You’ll start alongside him in the grand prix tomorrow. Your final lap, though, was the one that did it. You’ve been quick all weekend but did you feel the pressure from Perez and what was the secret in the end, particularly with your team-mate down in 16th?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: No real secret. Obviously the car has been handling pretty well all weekend. The laps haven’t been ideal many times. Even the first run, it was OK the lap, but nothing like… I knew there was quite a lot of room to improve so I just tried to make one a bit better lap and it was enough. Obviously still a bit of a way off from what these guys can do but we did our best today.

Coming back to you Nico, a disappointing race last here in Abu Dhabi. The race tomorrow, though, a chance to end the season with a hat-trick of victories. How important is it to carry that kind of momentum into the winter.

NR: Primarily I would just like to win the race, because it’s a great feeling to win and it would also give my whole crew and the team a great end to the season and a good reason to party then tomorrow night. That would be awesome, to all have a good time together. So that’s primarily on my mind. Of course, though, whatever we learn this year as well helps going into next year, so it would be great finishing on a high.


Nico, once again strategy starting to come into play during Saturday afternoon, noticeably that you saved new soft tyres for the race tomorrow, going out on supersofts in Q1. We’ve seen that a few times from your team, so fairly clear what you’re thinking about, but how important do you think strategy will be tomorrow in terms of the outcome of the grand prix?

NR: Strategy is always important. I think we’ve done our homework really well here, practicing well on Friday for the race, so we pretty much know exactly what to expect and the soft tyre will definitely be the better race tyre, so that’s why we saved one of those for the race.

Lewis, coming to you, obviously you’ve been fairly relaxed about the situation at the end of this season in terms of qualifying and the pendulum as it has swung. Over the balance of the year then it’s 12-7 to you in qualifying in the battle with Nico. Maybe you could just give us your thoughts on the Saturday, how the year has gone for you and your thoughts on that over the course of the season?

LH: It’s been good. It doesn’t really matter what that number is at the end of the day, what matters is the wins and obviously the championship, but you know, I’m happy because it has obviously been more in my favour. I’ve enjoyed it and in the last six Nico has done a great job. Areas to improve with the car, for me, on my side, but I’m sure we’ll get there.

Q: And for you Kimi, this is your fourth top three qualifying of the season. Do you feel going into 2016, with all you’ve said this weekend about hopes and aspirations for next year, that qualifying in particular is an area to work on?

KR: I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as that and if you qualify well you’re going to have a good finish. We have had good speed but many times a problem or mistakes here and there. Obviously it makes qualifying more difficult and hurts your end result easily but today, this weekend, everything’s been running smoothly and obviously it’s a bit better starting grid tomorrow but we have to still make a good race out of it. It doesn’t change what we do this year for next year anything. We start from zero in January and try to do a good year next.


Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Samomat) Nico, how tempting is it to try to get your seventh successive pole in the beginning of next season as Lewis did this year and to charge yourself for the whole winter.

NR: With all the respect, that’s not really a target of mine. Of course it’s great to finish the season on a high now and then yeah, I’ll be motivated to start next year in a way that this year has finished. That would be great. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as that but, as always, I’ll push and try and begin strongly next year.

Q: (Agris Lauzinieks - Kapitals Latvia) The question is what is the secret of your revival this season Nico? I mean two last races. Perhaps Mercedes is experimenting with new parts meant for 2016 and they are more suitable for your driving style. I mean new parts of the car.

NR: It’s not a revival, I haven’t reinvented anything. It’s just progress and that’s it. Before it was always very, very close but Lewis had that one-tenth edge and at the moment it’s me that has the one-tenth edge. Today a bit more but it was very close lately in the last two races. That’s it. At the moment I’m just quicker.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Honorary) Lewis, you said you’ve been struggling with the car all weekend. What has been the problem and will it be worse in the race?

LH: Generally it gets a little bit better in the race but it’s been for a while now. Generally just struggling on the edge with the car. It was a lot more comfortable at the beginning of the year for me and as I said, coming into this weekend I tried to make some changes. It disadvantaged myself a little bit maybe with one of the things I took off the car which was of benefit. I tried to get around it but at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Samomat) Kimi, you seem to be quicker with the soft tyre in the practice. Does that mean the race is easier for you compared to qualifying.

KR: I don’t think it’s going to be any easier. I mean, in qualifying the supersofts were working well and obviously yesterday and this morning wasn’t ideal. Couldn’t get the lap with those. Couldn’t get the lap with those but again in qualifying they were fine. Obviously conditions changed from daytime to this evening but no, both tyres seem to be working pretty well for me and we’ll see what we’re going to do tomorrow – which one we’re going to run and how it’s going to plan out in the first few laps.

Friday 27 November 2015

FIA Team Members Press Conference - TRANSCRIPT

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Cyril ABITEBOUL (Renault), Maurizio ARRIVABENE (Ferrari), Federico GASTALDI (Lotus), Christian HORNER (Red Bull Racing), Claire WILLIAMS (Williams) Toto WOLFF (Mercedes)


Cyril, it’s been a little while since you’ve been here joining us in the press conference. You’ve been talking a little bit recently about next year – larger budgets etc – but can you tell us what exactly Renault will be doing next year in Formula One?

Cyril ABITEBOUL: Well I’m afraid I can’t answer to that question. I would like to be in a position to be able to answer to that questions, but I am not today. What I can say is that there will be no announcement regarding Renault’s future – short-term or middle-term future – over the weekend, but there will be an announcement, very likely, in the course of next week. We have always said that we would like to do that after the season. Thee season is ending on Sunday, around the start of December and that is what we will do stick to that plan, which is to make an announcement then.

OK, Federico, if I could come to you, where does that leave you and your thoughts on this?

Federico GASTALDI: Well, we are on the same page. As I keep saying we have been working, all the time, actually since the Singapore race. We have Renault people already at the factory and it doesn’t change anything. They are the ones who have to announce. We cannot push Renault to make the decision because it’s their call.

Christian, coming to you, you were quoted this morning as saying that you know now for sure what engine you are going to use next year, but clearly no announcement yet, so what’s holding that up?

Christian HORNER: Well, we have and agreement in place for next year, so it’s great news that we will be on the grid next year, but unfortunately due to circumstance beyond our control we can’t announce exactly what that is. Perhaps Toto can tell you?


Toto WOLFF: Can I?

Coming back to you then Cyril, can you give us a sense of what it’s been like in the past weeks and months, the work that’s gone on behind the scenes and also your own personal ambitions for the brand?

CA: It’s typical Formula One. I think it has been a proper rollercoaster for us, for me, but also for the whole team, for a lot of people involved, I should say technical people involved in the engine programme. Clearly, Federico made reference to the work being done between Lotus and Renault and it’s fair to say that there is a process going on since the signing of the letter of interest on the 28th of September, there is a process involving a lot of people. I think 50 people have been working night and day on the realisation of a possible acquisition of a majority stake in Lotus. It’s just a project, It’s been a proper rollercoaster, very exciting. I have to say there has been a little bit of frustration on the track. We would have liked to do a better job for Red Bull and Toro Rosso engine-wise, but we always knew it was a long-term game to fix the issues we had. We have not managed to deliver a product that was in accordance to what we would have liked to do with those new regulations, so hopefully we will have the strategy, the time and the resouces to do that in the next few years. 

Thank you for that. Coming back to you Federico, clearly this weekend again a race against time for the mechanics to get the garage and the cars prepared for today’s sessions. Not the first time this has happened. Can you explain the background?

FG: We have been open in explaining what happened with the team. As everyone knows we have some financial issues. We have been trying to work out a new procedure where the team spends less money. So fortunately between Renault and the shareholders and Mr Ecclestone we kept going but again it’s just the situation we are in in Formula One at the moment. Genii have done a fantastic since they got involved in the team in 2010. We have had podiums, won races, so for a small private team it’s not a bad job.

Tank you. Coming back to you Christian, can you give us your reaction to the outcome of this week’s F1 Commission meeting and the direction taken, the direction from here in terms of the minimum number of teams that a manufacturer should supply and things like the simplification and cost of the engines. Maybe you could give us your thoughts on those items?

CH: Earlier in the week there was a positive discussion in the Strategy Group where the independent engine was discussed as an alternative product to being into Formula One and I think the reasons that the FIA and the promoter are keen on that is because costs are obviously critically high and as we have seen availability is also a key issue. So that was discussed in the Strategy meeting and it passed through the Strategy meeting. It then went to he Formula One Commission where despite a lot of the teams voicing concerns about costs the vote for the independent engine at that point wasn’t carried through. However, as a compromise position the manufacturers agreed and were requested to report back to the Commission by the 15th of January a solution to the current issues – a cheaper product, a more affordable product, a more available product and something that could potentially entice other manufacturers to come into Formula One. I think that the situation as we see it is that subject to what the manufacturers come back with by the 15th will depend whether or not the FIA feel the need to proceed with an independent engine to meet that criteria. So, it’s going on at the moment obviously, the time between now and the 15th of January is going to be a critical and busy period to define what this new power unit should be and what the cost and availability criteria are going to be.

Can I throw that across to you then Toto, your thoughts on what Christian’s just said and the likelihood of a resolution?

TW: The outcome is public and the independent engine concept with a balance of performance has not been approved. Nevertheless we are all pretty aware that you need to work on your product and develop your product and there are certainly aspects of that engine which can be looked at – costs of supplies is a very legitimate cause. The situation where a team might end up having no engine needs to be addressed and this is the task we have taken away. Is there an alternative concept from 2018 onwards which can address some of these topics, including the noise factor, question mark. We are looking at this and mid-January we are going to come back with hopefully a concept that is workable, financeable and that ticks all those boxes.

Maurizio, can you give us Ferrari’s position on this?

Maurizio ARRIVABENE: Already at the Strategy Group level the power units manufacturers they were more than keen to discuss about the 2018 engine with all the characteristics described before by Toto. So it was not a new news. Afterwards, at the F1 Commission the alternative engine was stopped and tomorrow the power manufacture companies are going to meet and we are going to seriously work on the new solution.

Claire, coming to you, in a season where many independent teams have had a rocky road, you have managed to sail on fairly serenely. What’s been the secret?

Claire WILLIAMS: I don’t know what the secret is. I think we just tend to keep our heads down and get on doing what we love doing and that’s going racing. We’ve worked hard over the past two years in order to turn this team around. We’ve made a lot of changes within the team and fortunately a lot of those changes are paying off. We’ve managed to secure third in the Constructors’, which is fantastic and testament to all the hard work that has gone in behind the scenes to try to turn this team around over the past 18 months. I’m really proud of the team and the job they have done this year. I think everyone knows though that there is almost a sense of disappointment that we’re third at Williams. We want to be winning races and fighting for that world championship. We’ve made some mistakes this year that have been fairly visible for people to see and we need to improve upon our operations to make sure we don’t make those mistakes next year and we can continue to improve in 2016.

Tell us about the signing of Lance Stroll, former Ferrari Young Driver Academy prospect. You’ve signed him up, what’s the plan for him?

CW: Lance is joining our young driver programme, starting next year. We will doing some simulator work with him to try to improve him as a driver. As everyone knows Williams enjoys nurturing young talent and we’ve identified Lance to take on that role next year. He’ll be doing simulator work with our guys at the factory and he will be undertaking a team immersion programme, so similar to the programme we did with Valtteri many years ago now. So he’ll be doing that and we’ll be supporting his season in Formula 3 next year and hopefully he will have a great season and we’;ll see where he ends up at the end of ’16.

Thank you for that. Coming back to you Toto, a record-breaking season comes to an end this weekend. You’ve been beaten only by Ferrari and Maurizio this season. How do you assess that challenge and do you expect a title challenge from them next year? 

TW: From the numbers it was indeed a very successful season and I am very happy and satisfied with how it went and there is a great buzz in the team and spirits are high but in Formula One as in many other sports and business only tomorrow’s result counts and this is why we are looking very much forward to next season. Ferrari is about best ‘frenemy’ and they have stepped up a lot over the winter. Clearly in Malaysia it came with a bit of a shock win and it was good for us to see that and I think generally they have done a good job and for F1 it is important that you have more teams competitive in the front fighting with each other, as much as you would like tot see it as a comfortable situation it is not sustainable and the better the platform is the better it is for us all.

Maurizio, your points of view? Is there belief in Maranello that you can come back here 12 months from now and be fighting for the championship?

MA: I hope so, because last time I said we would like to stay in front of them, this is an objective. Then last weekend somebody said in Italy, they make a statement in the newspaper ‘yeah, but where they want to go, they are going to be second, Mercedes is going to win’, and I was asking ‘So, what you want me to do in terms of objective? To tell to everybody that I would like to be second next year?’ Of course [to beat them] is our objective but it doesn’t mean we are going to achieve it. But we will try very hard.


Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Can I ask the three manufacturer teams: if there was an equivalency formula, would you still be here?

TW: Formula One is not a place, in my point of view, that should have an equivalency formula. It is very much the World Championship and the pinnacle of the best drivers, the best cars, the best engineering and I think it is important to understand what our DNA is and it has functioned very well over a long period of time. Doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be things we’re looking at and changing for the future but an equivalency formula, balance of performance wouldn’t be Formula One any more.


CA: It depends on the formula, y’know? Seriously, I think in addition to what Toto has mentioned about the DNA of the sport, the biggest hurdle I can see is that when there is distribution of something like a couple of hundreds of millions that are distributed on a yearly basis, I would not want to be the guy who has to sign off the formula that will decide the distribution. I think that will be opening the doors to an awful lot of discussions. There is already a lot of politics and talks in our sport, which I think is part of the game frankly, and of the show, but I think it will be simply way too much. So, clearly I believe, as a Renault representative, I recommend to Renault to stay away from that.


MA: I think we already have an equivalent formula that is so-called Formula Indy. I mean, Formula One, it’s the pinnacle of motorsport so I agree that we need to think about the future in future to reduce the cost but to reduce the cost you need new regulation first. Due to new regulation you can reduce the cost but the competition is distinguished in Formula One and the research from any other motorsport.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Question for Toto. Toto, Esteban Ocon has just announced on Twitter that he’s now a Mercedes AMG F1 driver. Does that mean that he’s taken up the reserve role from Pascal? And can we assume that Pascal is therefore moving on to Manor?

TW: So, yes, we’ve taken up the option on him because he has been with us now, or has been following the DTM team for a while, has been the test driver in DTM and integrated well and he’s doing a very good job in GP3 as well and he’s somebody we’d very much like to have in the family. This is why we’ve exercised the option. It doesn’t mean that we’ve found a solution for Pascal. The current driver market is a bit difficult because most of the teams have already announced their drivers and it need to be the right deal – but having taken up Esteban we are conscious that we need to find a suitable programme for both of them. It could well mean that it could eventually end up for both of them in a testing role, in a reserve driver role and in a DTM role – so it’s not done yet.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) A question to all of you please. We’re currently talking about 2017 regulations, completely different underbodies etcetera, different aero packages, tyres. At the same time we’re talking about the possibility of a completely different engine concept. Isn’t this indicative of the sort of disjointed approach to Formula One that, on the one side we’re talking about a completely different chassis concept in, sort of, 15 months time, and on the other side, in 18 months or two years, we’re looking at a completely different engine. Should we not co-ordinate these packages together?

CH: I absolutely agree with you Dieter. We should bring it all in, in 2017.


CW: I think the conversations are still on-going, I don’t think anything’s been decided yet and I think they’re very early days in those conversations and we’re trying to map out what the best course of action is – but I think you have to remember the reasons behind the fact we’re having these conversations is in order to try and improve our sport and make it the best that it possibly can be – and we’ve still got a bit of a way to go before we do that but I think if you look at the regs that the working groups are working on at the moment around the new car and the chassis etcetera what that’s going to look like and then you look at what we’re trying to do with the engines and bring down the costs of those. If we can get both areas right, then I think in ’17 – and if not, if we have to wait to ’18 so be it – but I think it could make Formula One a much more stable platform that we can all enjoy in the future.


FG: Well we certainly need the stability but I think there’s still a lot of things to be discussed in order to find a solution that will suit everyone.


CA: I believe the processes are exactly the same. On chassis side I think we are trying to improve the product which is already a good product, while on the engine side we are trying to recover from a number of issues that are associated to the current regulations. I think we recognise that, that’s why I guess the process is different and the timing of those two exercises is slightly different.


MA: I think this discussion, it looks less confused than what it is in reality. The chassis is still under discussion and it will be an evolution and not a revolution concerning the engine. The good news is for 2016 and 2017 everything, it’s very clear now, opening also the door to us, because we are still second, to Renault and also to Honda. We will continue to do our job especially. Tomorrow with the first meeting about the new power unit that is supposed to be in 2017. We try to do all of our best but I think even the Wizard of Oz couldn’t be able to do it for 2017. For sure for 2018. So, it’s much more positive than what it looks like.

Do you agree with that Toto?

TW: Yeah. There’s some good stuff coming. I think in terms of chassis regulation there’s interesting bits and synchronisation probably makes sense but you need, of course, to look at the costs.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for all of you. In the past it has always been almost impossible to find one way for all the teams, for all the parties in F1 Commission and Strategy Group and so on. Some people say that now things changed a bit in the last meetings. Why now? Is it the alternative engine that was there or…? Why is it possible now and not in the past?

CH: I suppose when you look at it, the teams have collectively been spectacularly incapable of coming up with solutions and sensible remedies to the problems – and I think the problem we face in Formula One is you’ve got vested interest. Within your own team you try to protect the elements that are your strengths, that offer you that competitiveness over your opponents. And I think this is where Formula One has tripped over itself over previous years and indeed, the engine formula that we’ve ended up with today arguably is a mistake. It’s expensive. The technology is fantastic but we’re not doing a great job of communicating that and I think it’s put a situation where probably half the grid is currently insolvent. I think there’s a fundamental question that needs to be answered and that is: what should Formula One be? I certainly believe that Formula One should be entertainment. It should have a technological interest to it but that needs the promoters and the owners of the sport, together with the regulators to decide what that product is, come up with a set of rules, not let engineers write those rules, they come up with those rules and put them in front of the teams and say “that’s what Formula One is going to be and that’s what it should be for the future,” and they need to bring in some people with the right skillset to be able to define what those regulations are. And there’s good people that aren’t currently in employment within teams at the moment that are impartial, that come up with a set of regulations that are in the best interests of Formula One, that’s going to provide the best show for the fans, for the public, for the paying spectators who are the backbone of what we do because without them there is no show, there is no Formula One and we need to get Formula One back to being a sport that is enthralling to the public.

Maurizio, do you share that view?

MA: I think if you are winning races, of course the show is perfect for you. If you are not winning races the show needs improvement. It’s normal. But I think at this stage, I’ve said so many, many times, we need to work all together, really to improve the show, to attract more spectator, especially on the segment, on the younger segment – and I think this is something, it’s an objective because the population of the world TV viewer, reader and so on is getting older and older and older and this is what we have to do. Of course, during the way you find it’s not an easy way to go because of course the people who have an advantage, they want to keep it. The people that doesn’t have any advantage, they are using sometimes this problem to criticize the overall system. I think with great cooperation between all of us, we can solve it.

Toto, back to the question about the level of consensus, what are your thoughts on that?

TW: I would just follow Maurizio on that one. Summed it up pretty well.

Q (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) This is for the three manufacturers again. You guys represent very, very large companies that have lots and lots and lots of money. Why in the world are you fighting over a few millions when you’re getting the technology that Formula One gives and you’re getting the exposure as well? Why don’t you just settle down, give people a decent price and let’s get on with it?


CA: Thank you! Frankly, it’s a good question. At the end of the day, at the end of the road that might be what’s at stake but I think maybe there is some road to cover before we get there. You’re talking about the amount of money that we all have, yes, absolutely, but you know times are difficult. Automotive car makers have their own challenge, they need to invest for their core business which is road car technology that you find on the road, not on the track. We’ve got a number of risks associated to what we do. I’m not talking about motorsport. You are aware of the ‘Dieselgate’ and a lot of us are exposed  – maybe not Ferrari – but a lot of us are exposed to this difficulty, this challenge that the world of carmakers are facing but that’s not the only issue, we’ve got a number of issues, like the currency, like the markets, the lack of confidence of certain customers, so we need to be extremely careful. At the end of the sale, it’s a sales and marketing decision. Basically, we need to demonstrate that investing in Formula One, or spending – because it’s not an investment – spending in Formula One is more cost-efficient than spending, for instance, in the regular advertising or spending in badminton in China. So there is a number of KPIs that we need to follow, that we need to monitor and demonstrate that this is competitive as a marketing spend perspective. At least for a manufacturer, which is a mainstream manufacturer, like Renault, and for which Formula One has always been in the DNA but for which is not a must – there are many carmakers that are very successful and are not in Formula One. So, we need to be extremely careful about whatever can, I would say, threaten or destabilize our business case in Formula One and obviously subsidizing the cost of engines to independent teams – even though we appreciate it might be a necessity to be in the sport and to have a healthy sport but it is something that is endangering the business case. That is the situation.

TW: It is a situation where all those big OEMs - like everyone else out there - is trimmed on efficiency and particularly the car industry with the problems Cyril has described, are in a constant loop of margins, recalibrating margins, of trimming down costs and Formula One, although it is part of the DNA what we do at Mercedes, because it’s around the car, it needs to have the right price for what you do and this is why you can’t just apply easy-going mentality and say it doesn’t matter if you spend a little bit more or a little bit less. It does because somebody will look at the numbers and somebody will make a decision whether it makes sense or not. And this is why we are aware (that) although we have this big mothership behind us, that it needs to be the right price, it needs to have the right value and we are monitoring that and if we are a having a bad race with a bad audience or not the right viewing numbers in terms of what you deliver to your partners, that’s being considered and that is how we operate.

MA: You don’t have to mix up the big name of Ferrari. Ferrari has a name that is in a worldwide business, it’s at the top. That doesn’t mean that the budget is in a wordwide business at the top. We need to be careful. Mr Marchionne is not joking about that, to respect the budget that is assigned to us. We are not the kind of company that is throwing money out of the window. That’s the point. So don’t mix up the big name with budget. That’s another story.

Q: (Chris Lines – AP) Christian, does this new engine supply deal suggest that Red Bull has a fresh commitment to staying in the sport as a constructor, as an owner? And you describe the deal as a transition. I was wondering, a transition towards what?

CH: Well, to answer the first part of your question, I think it’s no secret that during the summer that Dietrich Mateschitz became fairly disillusioned with Formula One, with the direction that things were heading. He said in conversations that he’d personally had the undertakings that he had that didn’t come to fruition. He is probably the most committed supporter of Formula One over the last ten years, if you look at two Grand Prix teams, a Grand Prix on the calendar, the amount of promotion that Red Bull worldwide puts into Formula One, the young driver programmes, investing in youth and young talent, more than probably 1500 employees across the different teams and markets, regarding the two Formula One projects. So for Red Bull it’s a major major part of their promotional budget spend, that is committed to Formula One, and I think that during the summer months or the latter part of the summer, he was seriously concerned with the direction the sport was heading and what the return of Formula One could ultimately provide. I think that having sat and thought about it, he’s decided that there’s too much at stake, that Red Bull have invested so much into the sport that he wants to see the team get back to its former glory. We’ve got some challenges ahead to achieve that. I think the current constitution of performance obviously in a power unit dominated formula it’s a difficult situation if you’re not aligned to a competitive power unit at this point in time, so 2016 will be a transitional year for us and I think as hopefully regulations come to fruit or come to bear with the changes that Jean Todt is pushing for, that the promoter is pushing for, to achieve a more affordable, more available power unit, can only be a positive thing for any independent team, not just Red Bull but all the other independent teams that are currently on the grid.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Christian, with regard to your remarks about a sole regulatory body, that would suggest that perhaps you’re calling for the abolition of the strategy group and the F1 commission. Is that the case, is that feasible and to the other five, do any of you agree with Christian’s remarks that you would again like to see a sole regulatory body, that the teams would no longer have an input?

CH: I believe that an input is fine and the teams obviously have an investment in the business, so there’s no reason why things shouldn’t be discussed among the key stakeholders and certain teams obviously are stakeholders. And the strategy group is supposed to be looking at the longevity of Formula One but what the strategy group continually gets embroiled in is fire-fighting issues of the current day. Instead of looking at what should a Formula One car be like in 2020 and beyond, we’re constantly dealing with issues of today and tomorrow, rather than further down the road. So I think that of course there has to be consultation with the teams but at the end of the day, somebody has to run the business, and somebody has to say this is the route that we’re going and a democratic approach to that will not work in our opinion.

CW: I think it’s a bit of a case of be careful of what you wish for. I think that we’re very lucky that we have – as Williams, as a team – that we have a seat at that table and can be part of the democratic process that we do have in F1 at the moment. I like that, I like being able to be involved but I do think that at the moment, as Christian said, we have a number of agendas on the table and it’s very difficult to get everybody to agree around that table when we’re having discussions and we all run our businesses in very different ways and we all have very different capability within our teams. But I’m not sure if I would subscribe to our sport having a single regulatory body. I think it would be very difficult for everybody around the table.

FG: Well, I agree with them and I’m sorry to keep repeating the same things but the problem for me is that we are not in the same boat, we are not on the same page and we are not on the same agenda. As Cyril has pointed out before, we are all looking for our own stability as a team individually. It’s hard to have a common approach that will benefit the sport at the end of the day.

CA: As a Frenchman I am for the dictature (dictatorship) as long as you can chose the dictator. I think it’s fair to say that if we want to be progressive, what Formula One is, maybe there needs to be some form of re-grouping of different groups and functions and something a bit more effective and again progressive. Having said that, there is always some dangers, that again the power can be in the hands of someone who has a particular agenda which can be the individual or collective, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. But I think on balance, if you look at Formula One I would prefer it to be more progressive than it is, so if that involves a little bit of dictatorship maybe that would be better.

TW: Can I follow Claire on her opinion? That’s what I would say.

MA: I think a couple of years ago we had an aero dominating formula, today we have a power unit dominating formula. I think that the right balance should be defining to be sure to make everybody happy. Then the question if we go for a democratic decision or a kind of dictatorial decision is not for me to decide. I mean we have a commercial rights holder, we have a federation but of course we also have the interests of the teams so my aim is to find the right balance for the future and to make everybody happy and working to enhance the show and to go back to a spectacular Formula One.

Q: (Nahed Sayooh - Autosport Middle East) Maurizio, you have set a target of three wins this season and the team achieved it. What is the target for 2016?

MA: The target for 2016 is to cancel the smile from the face of my friend Toto.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Christian, you spoke earlier about the need to communicate the technology aspect of Formula One. Do you think that with the endless discussions about strategy direction, power units etc etc, are we losing the plot in terms of communicating this technology message?

CH: I think to a degree we are. What these cars achieve with 100 kilos of fuel and the fuel economy they are achieving is impressive but I’m not sure how many fans actually give a damn about that. I think that what they want to see is the drivers who need to be the heroes, racing wheel to wheel and competitive racing. Machines that are Formula One cars are truly spectacular to drive and I think Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport and it’s competing against an awful lot of other sports that are now demanding television air time. And it’s got to be entertaining from start to finish. I think that that’s what we need to be striving for, that’s what we need to be looking to achieve. Now of course technology plays a role but I don’t believe it needs to be the primary role, that should be about the drivers and out-and-out racing.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Toto, from the pit lane in Brazil, you seemed to indicate that the difference in price to the teams of the new engine to the old engine is about plus twenty percent which works out at ten percent per annum, or if that price gets held for next year, about six percent per anum, which is roundabout six percent of a smaller team’s budget. What’s the big outcry about, why do you want to throw this engine out with the bathwater when in fact there’s only about a six percent difference from one to the other?

TW: I couldn’t follow you on that calculation. But the main point is that there are lots of numbers out there and lots of wrong numbers out there and as a matter of fact I can only speak for Mercedes because these are the calculations I know, it’s from a previous engine spec: the old eight cylinder engine plus KERS. About the difference to what we have today, it is what you have mentioned, 20 or 25 percent. Is that too much? Maybe. I remember times when I joined Formula One a couple of years ago, the price was around £30m, three-zero plus a driver. Nevertheless, I think it’s legitimate to question the price and obviously the lower the price, the better it is for Formula One, the more sustainable it becomes, the better it is for most of the teams and that is OK and we need to look at it. But the difference is not what’s been said. 

Thursday 26 November 2015

FIA Drivers Press Conference - TRANSCRIPT

DRIVERS – Fernando ALONSO (McLaren), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Romain GROSJEAN (Lotus), Daniil KVYAT (Red Bull Racing), Roberto MERHI (Manor), Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


First of all then, a question to you all: how would you sum up your year and what was your favourite moment? Romain, why don’t you get us started.
Romain GROSJEAN: Well, I think the favourite moment is pretty easy – Spa Francorchamps, the podium. To summarise the year: it was a pretty good year I think in terms of driving. We had a good baseline to start the year with the car. We couldn’t really update it as much as we wanted but still fighting for sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, so pretty pleased with that and yeah, last year with Lotus.

And Daniil?
Daniil KVYAT: Well, a very eventful year I would say, it went by very quickly. I think the start was quite painful but then I think I’m proud of how we managed to climb our way up through all the issues that we had to start with and then I think we kind of stabilised there. Some strong races and some good points, but obviously we are always looking for more in the future. The highlight I think was the podium, even though I wouldn’t say it was the best race. We had a couple of really strong races, I would say even the last couple of races I was quite pleased about them. Hoping to finish on high here, yeah.

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Pretty average, I must say. Better than last year but still far away from what it should be. But there’s life and next year we’ll try again.

Roberto MERHI: Yeah for sure we started in a very difficult way, with no testing and to be honest I never drove this car before. But I think through the year the thing improved quite a lot – I mean the team and also the car and also me, driving the car. I think the last races were quite good. And obviously the best moment of the year I would say were the last laps in Silverstone with the wet or maybe the qualifying in Spielberg was quite good.

And Fernando, how would you sum up your year and can you pick out a favourite moment? 
Fernando ALONSO: Well, tough year, obviously difficult and struggling with the pace all year and the reliability, so definitely a difficult season for us. But personally I think it was necessary. It was a step forward in my career after the two championships, after five fantastic seasons fighting for the world championship but arriving second, so I needed some new motivation, some new project that I could trust and I could believe is the only way to become champion again. After one difficult season, as I said, I learn so much. I enjoy working with McLaren, with Honda, with all the Japanese discipline and Japanese culture into the team. I still remain very positive. I’m very, very happy and looking forward to next year being a little bit easier than this one that, as I said, has been difficult in terms of results.

And finally, Lewis, how would you sum up your year. So many favourite moments I’m sure, difficult to pick one? 
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, what can I say? Obviously all different experiences but it has been the best year of my career and I’m in a very fortunate position, a lot of great work done by my team. Probably one of the best races for me was Austin obviously, the pinnacle of the year for me. Yeah, and excited to be here in Abu Dhabi, with the 44th UAE national day and I’m here to try to win that 44th race, which I still haven’t done, so it’s cool how it all kind of ties in.

Did you see all the 44s around here did you think that was for you, rather for the day? 
LH: Well it is my number, it’s associated with me, so….

Fernando, you mentioned there it has been a tough season and it’s coming to an end here. Your 252nd grand prix start, it puts you fifth on the all-time most experienced drivers list. You talked a bit there about motivation and I just wondered what is your main motivation and goal for 2016. 
FA: At the moment there’s a question mark, I guess, where McLaren-Honda can be next year. There are a lot of expectations in the team. I think we worked really all season, being united in some difficult moments and always moving forward, so I think for 2016 the main goal for the team is to come back to where we belong, we think, and being competitive, fighting for the top positions. I don’t know if that means fighting for the championship, I don’t know if that means fighting for victories of just being on the podium sometimes, that’s always difficult to know in a very complex sport like Formula One. There are definitely some big challenges ahead in this winter and I see all the things that the team has done in the last couple of months and these seem very logical, very positive and I’m confident that it’s going to be a completely different season next year and I’m happy with the progress.

Thank you. Lewis, coming back to you, I know you are very aware of fans on social media and the discussions that take place. There’s been a lot of discussion for this final round about whether you and your team-mate Nico Rosberg should be allowed to go for it with whatever strategy you want to use on Sunday in a sort-of end-of-season free-for-all. What are your thoughts on that? 
LH: I don’t really have any thoughts on it, to be honest. It doesn’t really make any difference what my thoughts are. We’re going to be racing… the strategists will give us the best… whoever’s up ahead will have the best strategy and the guy behind will have the second best strategy, so I don’t really have any thoughts on that.

OK. Romain, coming back to you, your 83rd and final grand prix for the Enstone-based team, currently Lotus. You’ve scored 10 podiums for the team, so in what mood do you say goodbye this weekend? 
RG: yeah, it’s the first time of my career that I have had to change teams in Formula One, so it’s something new. The first time I went to Enstone was September 2005, as one of the driver development and I learned everything from there. So yeah it’s going to be… switching off the car on Sunday, jumping out of the E23 and thinking that was the last race with the team is certainly going to be quite hard. On the other hand I really want to push hard all weekend long to score good points, do a good result, thank the guys for all the support, through tough times, better times as well and I think we did both learn from those years, so it was a nice experience. Very much looking forward to the next one as well, it’s going to be very exciting with Haas. It’ll be good to have a good weekend and say goodbye in a proper way.

Thank you. Daniil, a season of two parts personally for you. From Monaco onwards it’s gone well. Your 10 points ahead of your team-mate with one race to go, so what aspect of your performance this year has given you the most satisfaction? 
DK: Yeah, like you said, since Monaco we probably started to follow the right path more of less, a bit technically, a bit myself, but to be honest it didn’t change much. An up and down season but we scored some good points, we managed to start taking the maximum out of the package most of the weekends. These things kind of give satisfaction but of course we are looking for more performance and we are not yet where we want to be but for sure it doesn’t take one day to be there. So we will keep pushing. Like I said there were some good races in Spa, in Mexico and Brazil where I think we were taking the absolute maximum out of the car and we need to try to do this every weekend.

Roberto, back in the cockpit for Manor this weekend. A lot of change going on in that team. Can you tell us about the team’s prospects and your own?
RM: Yeah obviously Manor wants to do a step for next year, to try to be fighting for points every race, every grand prix and they are putting a lot of effort on it and hopefully it goes well. The plan also for me next year is to try to stay in Formula One and trying to see what is the best options out there and yeah we will see. At the moment there is nothing clear yet but we will look in the next few weeks to see what is happening.

Q: Finally, Kimi, both your team principal Maurizio Arrivabene and team-mate Sebastian Vettel have said the target for next season is to challenge Mercedes for the championship. How do you analyse the progress this year towards that – and do you think it’s achievable?
KR: Obviously this year has been a lot stronger year from the team than previous year and you can easily see it from whichever way you look at it and it all comes to next year. Obviously that’s the aim: the aim is always to try to be in the front and Mercedes has always been very strong last years and everybody else tries to beat them. Is it going to happen? Are we going to be in a position next year? We hope so at least. We have to wait until we put the cars on the circuit in a test and the first few races – then we really see where we are. Obviously there’s a lot of work being done at the factory, number and stuff but it’s never the same until we’re really on the circuit. Then we can see it pretty well, or feel it quite quickly, after a few laps, if it’s going to a good one or not so good one. I’m sure we’re going to have a strong package – but is it strong enough? Time will only tell.


Q: (Khodr Rawi - Question to Fernando. Fernando, how realistic is to be beat Sauber and finish ahead of them in Constructors’ Championship here in Abu Dhabi? Do you think it’s realistic?
FA: I don’t know really. I think it’s unlikely. I think they are nine points ahead, I think, and we score points three or four times this year only, so to score as many as ten in one race, in the final race is a little bit difficult but, you know, I think we will try to do our best. We will try to perform a good weekend but I think our minds are on next year’s project and probably half of the car is next year’s parts or next year’s philosophy as well so I think we are not too worried about beating Sauber this weekend or not.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, Bahrain, P2 was your best result for two years. Has it been also been also the best weekend for you during this times at Ferrari lately?
KR: The end result was probably best but it doesn’t meant that we are somehow better than other weekends. The end result, it just looks good. But it’s not been the easiest few years but that’s how it goes, y’know? We improved a lot from last year but we’re still not happy and when I don’t finish five races it’s quite a big… many races out of how many we’ve done so far this year. You don’t expect to be very high up and fighting for a lot. So, we have to improve and I’m sure we can still improve it and next year is a new challenge. Let’s see. I’m sure we can do better.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Romain Grosjean. How much are you worried by the delay of the building of your cars?
RG: Something we have experienced in the past. We have always managed to put it on track on time. As long as it’s ready for FP2 then I’m happy. We’ll try to forget that, as we’ve shown in, I think it was Suzuka and Brazil when we were a little bit late. We did manage to put the car on track and go for it. It’s just harder work for the guys who don’t deserve this – but they are going to do the maximum and then from there we try to score some good points.

Q: (Joy Chakavarty - Sport 360) My question is for Romain. Romain this is the first time that you’re joining a second new team. How different is the feeling when you were joining the F1 for the first time and now, after 83 races, joining another new team. Can you just give us an idea of the mix of emotions that you have right now? Sense of anticipation for next year? Kind of sadness or sorrow? Whatever for leaving the team behind now?
RG: Yeah, I think you summarise it pretty well. It’s sad to leave… more than a team it becomes a family through the years. It’s going to be hard to leave the guys but I know they won’t be far in the paddock so that’s good news. On the other hand there’s real excitement at joining a new team, a new adventure, an American Formula One team is going to be great. Looking forward to it and going to Haas is a very different thing. So I came the first time in Formula One as a rookie. Everything to learn. Right now I’m going in a new team and I’ve probably got the experience they were looking for. We try to be successful as soon as we can – but it’s quite different. It feels better now than it was the first time. Easier.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Honorary) Lewis, after your visit to the NASCAR race last week, what did you see there that would be really cool for the fans or competitors in F1? Or perhaps something you saw that said no way should come to Formula One?
LH: I don’t know, I’d have to really think about that. There were definitely some things that for sure they do a lot better than us. Or, whether it’s a lot better… but there were for sure things that we could learn from them. It was a great show, a great spectacle, particularly for the fans. A bit like DTM, the fans get very, very close to the garages in the background and to the drivers and… what else? Otherwise it was a really cool event. I hope I get to do one one day.

Q: (Wafa Suqqar - beinsports) Kimi, after the second round in Malaysia, Ferrari fans feeling better that maybe this year will be different. What Ferrari can promise the fans about 2016?
KR: Like I said before, we’re going to give our best and hopefully it’s enough to fight for championships. We keep improving, following our own way of doing the things that we’ve done from last year to this year and hopefully then it’s enough to be where we want to be as Ferrari. So, we can promise a lot of things. Is it going to happen? Who knows? I really hope for all the guys there in Ferrari that we will come back strong – or stronger next year than this year – but there’s no point to make big promises. We’re going to do our best and then we’ll see.

Q: (Walter Koster – Saarbrucker Zeitung) Gentlemen, last year Sochi, this year Mexico, next year Baku in Azerbaijan; three new tracks in three years. Are you looking forward to new tracks or do you regret not returning to the eliminated tracks in the past like Imola, Magny Cours, Istanbul Park or Valencia? This is for the four drivers who know these tracks. 
FA: At the end of the day it doesn’t change anything for us. Going to some of the circuits that we raced on for all our careers, like Imola, Magny Cours, Istanbul – they are nice tracks and there is nice tradition there so you enjoy racing at those circuits. When you go to new countries, you open the sport up to new people and to new generations so it’s also quite a good feeling. We are travelling a little bit more. When I started some years ago, there were 16 races; now, next year, they have planned 21 and most of them out of Europe, so it’s definitely more demanding in terms of travelling and preparing the championship but as I said, it’s the direction that the sport chooses and there is the advantage of opening up Formula One to new countries and this is also good news, I think. 
LH: Not really much to add to what he said but Fernando’s right, it’s good to go to different countries and to spread the word of Formula One, give them the experience and gain new followers for the sport. Those tracks you mentioned, apart from Imola, were not particularly spectacular tracks anyway so for sure it would be kind of good to keep the balance of the real classic circuits rather than just a bunch of new circuits because the new circuits are generally not as good as the old circuits, they don’t carry the same history or heritage and I think it’s important that we keep really close to the heritage of Formula One which is those old, historic circuits. 
KR: It’s always the new places that are quite similar, designed by the same guy, so I’m not saying that they’re not good but they are more the same. I enjoy the older, traditional circuits. You maybe didn’t like Magny Cours, I liked it, not many people, quiet, easy. It was one of the best places to go! I liked the older, they looked a bit nicer, a more normal feeling than when we come here and everything is put – in this case – in a more desert area. I prefer there, it’s easier for people to go to – for us. We go wherever the race is. The weekend itself doesn’t change. We have the same people as here, the timetable is more or less (the same) and the same things happen. 
RG: I think it was really great this year to see Mexico was... a very warm welcome from all the fans, it was an awesome weekend. I would like to see Magny Cours back on the calendar, it would be the French Grand Prix, unique for me. Paris? The traffic is not so good. I would like a French Grand Prix. I think Fernando’s point is completely right: in an ideal world you would like to do all of them  but it’s not possible so I think we follow the calendar, we like discovering new places but going to Silverstone or in Germany or Barcelona is always quite special.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Romain, earlier Fernando spoke of his appreciation for the influence of the Japanese discipline on him and his team. What are you hoping to get from the influence of the Haas team and the American approach on yourself next season? 
RG: Well, I think I have already been seduced by their approach and when I met Gene Haas, trying to pronounce the word properly - it’s very hard for a Frenchman – it was straightaway... the spirit was ‘let’s go racing’ and I liked that. I really liked their philosophy, discovering more and more about America. I didn’t yet get to a NASCAR race, I’m on the backfoot on that but I will probably go next year and I think there is this American spirit with the European base as the team is going to be in between Italy and Banbury in the UK and then all the management in the US. So it can be a great mix.

Q: (Graham Cagill - The National) Lewis, you’ve won here twice before and you were well on your way to winning in 2012 as well before the car let you down and you’ve had two pole positions also, so I think it’s fair to say that you go well here. Just wondering if there’s any reason why you think you go so well here and what your expectations are for this weekend? 
LH: I don’t know; I guess there are some tracks that suit some drivers’ styles more than others. Ideally you would like your style to suit everywhere exactly the same but there are some that you just happen to go better at. I know this is a bit like a karting track, there’s a lot of late braking and bouncing off kerbs and really having to throw the car around. It works for an aggressive driving style, I guess and yeah, I’ve had some great experiences here, even from the first race which I was leading but – (to Kimi) you won the first race didn’t you? – I’m thinking you might have won the first race maybe. Someone won the first race after my car failed but a great experience. It’s always a good finale here, you’ve got some good battles, the weather’s always fantastic, great fans and for me this weekend is... I’ve had an amazing year here last year and I’m here to try to do something similar.