Sunday 29 July 2018

2018 Hungarian GP: FIA Post-Race Press Conference

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Lewis, an absolutely spectacular job. Completely done today. Fifty per cent of the job done yesterday and the finishing touches into that. 

Lewis HAMILTON: What a beautiful day. What a great crowd we’ve had and really an amazing job from the team. We came here knowing that the Ferraris would be real quick this weekend but to come out with these points we’ll definitely take as a bonus for us, so we deserve the holiday that’s coming.

Q: I can see how drained you are. How physical was it out there under the sun?

LH: I was sweating. You know. It was so hot. Physical but I was obviously able to manage the pace. I think it’s the last part here that really kills me, when I go and celebrate with my team, but a big thank you to everyone back at the factory.

Q: How do you look back on the first part of the season as we go into the summer break and you get some time to lie on the beach on the back of these last five grands prix on six weekends.

LH: I’m not really the lay down on the beach kind of type, I’ll be doing activities, training and getting ready for the second half, but really happy with how strong it’s come the last couple of races and as I said, so grateful for all the hard work and the continued efforts of the team, so they all deserve the break and I hope they keep pushing, we;’ve got to come strong in the next half.

Q: Sebastian, I think that’s the best you could have hoped for today wasn’t it, getting up to P2. You almost jumped Bottas in the pit stop but I think Carlos Sainz held you up a little and a bit of a tricky pit stop?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I don’t know, I think something was stuck at the rear but it was tough race. We were a little bit out of position for the speed that we had. I think we could go with Lewis today in terms of race pace. I had a good start on the harder tyre, which was good, and I was in third. Then I think we did well. I think then it was a bit tricky knowing when to come in. And then obviously we had a little bit of an issue at the pit stop, as you mentioned, and we came out behind Valtteri and then I realised right away I couldn't get him because his tyres were still too fresh, so I was sitting back and waiting and trying to line everything up for the last 10 laps and it worked. His tyres were getting worse and worse and I knew obviously how long those yellow tyres last from the first stint that I had, so I was quite confident I could get him at the end. Obviously P2 is not what we really wanted this weekend but I think it’s the maximum we could get today.

Q: Did you think you were clear after you had made that contact down at Turn 2 at the end?

SV: I was surprised to be honest. I was already ahead and I was just trying to brake so that I covered the inside line and not running too deep. Then I got a hit from behind, so I wasn’t sure what was going on. Then I was looking in the mirrors and I saw that Valtteri was there with Kimi and obviously after that I was clear and I was lucky nothing was broken and we could carry on.

Q: Kimi, a very strong end to that grand prix. I think you tried a different strategy and I guess you can be quite happy for Ferrari to get two cars on the podium?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Yeah, I think it was the best that we could hope today. Far from ideal start. I think we need to improve those a bit to give us a bit more easier. We catch up with Bottas after the first stop but there was not chance to overtake at that point, so our option was to stop again and try again and at least we got one place back. Far from ideal. I think we had pretty good speed today but what can you do? Sometimes it's like that, but we take the points and go for the next one.

Q: And great to have this little man standing behind you. He looks happy?

KR: Yeah, he’s always happy, so that’s nice.


Q: (Péter Vámosi – A question for Lewis. Two years ago you mentioned Budapest as your top three cities that you like in the world – Tokyo and New York were maybe also there. What exactly is the order? And will you stay here a little bit and maybe doing another bicycle trip again in Budapest and check out some architecture and some buildings?

LH: You want to know what the order of my favourite cities are? I think it was New York, Tokyo, here, London, I think that’s about really. I don’t plan on staying. The weather is great and the city just seems to get nicer and nicer every time I come. But now it’s holiday, I’m going to meet my mum and my sister and niece and nephew tonight and I’ll spend the next four or five days with them. It's not too often I get to do family holidays so that’s something I’m looking forward to. But I’ll always have a chance to come back to Budapest. I’ve got some friends here. I spent some time already in the city away from the race. It's very cool, because it’s still very young as well. They’ve got a lot of new buildings going up with the great old architecture they have there. It feels like it’s growing as well in terms of how young it is, so very cool.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – A question for Lewis. You said that Friday is normally different to Sunday. But on Friday you didn’t use the blankets on your rear tyres. You get out from the pits very slowly, I believe not to heat the rear tyres…

LH: I didn’t use what?

The electrical blanket on your rear tyres.

LH: When

Friday. We saw it on the TV.

LH: We always use blankets.

Also leaving the pits very slow…

LH: You can’t drive these tyres from stone cold. Just so you know. So they are always in the blankets but they might take them out earlier than..

Where I want to arrive is that you have many problems with the ultrasoft tyres. The first stint you were on ultrasoft, the track was 59 degrees, 35 the air, and you had incredible performance, everything exactly the opposite to Friday. Can you make a comment; you changed the car, you understood what was going wrong?

LH: Well, from Friday to Saturday I made a big car change. The balance that I steered towards, I made a big change in P1, because I was uncomfortable with the balance. It’s difficult to make change in P1 because you have to wait for the track to come to you rather than chase the set-up. I straight away made a big change and I tried to pursue that direction but by the time I got to the end of P2 I realised it wasn’t the right direction so I had to pull back and go another way. We had a bit of running in P3 but the car still wasn’t perfect. And then it rained. I didn’t make any changes but I knew that Valtteri had had good P2 running and we weren’t too far off in the direction that we ended. All the learning you do on a Friday, it wasn’t perfect, the way you drive, the way you use the tyres, then you come back on Sunday and you have to bring you're ‘a-game’. Friday is not usually the day I bring my ‘a-game’. In terms of the tyres, the ultrasoft lasted a lot better than I thought today. I did struggle in P2 but, as I said, I was on a different set-up. The long run was quite good and then we went to the soft and I struggled, as where in P2 I was really good on the soft. So it was completely different. I struggled at the beginning and then we got through some traffic and then I moved a lot of switches around and eventually was able to balance the car and then it was OK. After that I was able to do some decent times and pull the gap. I knew that at some point I’d need to pull the gap to these while they were still behind Valtteri. I knew the strategy that Valtteri was on it was highly unlikely that he was going to make it last and when I pulled away from the grid I knew that Sebastian had been on the soft tyre. We knew that it would also make it very difficult to win, even for me, so that’s why the gap was really important. I definitely don’t think the team expected me to be able to eke out my first stint to lap 30 or whatever it was. I think they were a little bit too optimistic I would say on the other side to make those tyres go that far. Even for me towards the end of my stint my tyres were on the way out. I probably could have done another 10 laps or 15 laps on them before they were completely dead. Their pace was obviously good but fortunately I’d done enough by then.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) For Lewis and Sebastian. At the beginning of the race on alternative tyre strategies, it looked like at one point the race might be swinging more towards Seb, especially when Valtteri pitted and Seb looked like he was going to jump him. So obviously the race went in a different direction. Could I get your comment on how the race changed and also how it impacts the momentum of your respective championship campaigns.

LH: The tyres converge. If you draw a line of the tyre life you’ve got the ultrasoft which starts quickest and it drops off at a certain point and there’s a crossover between the soft and the ultrasoft and then there’s the medium which is way off, it’s a terrible tyre. So past, kind of like, I think somewhere around lap eight, the soft tyres going to be faster than the ultrasoft – but I was able to… I was taking it quite easy on my tyres at the beginning. I was able to get that gap to Valtteri. I think it was to something like eight seconds. By the time he had pitted, and Sebastian had got clean air, then I was able to react to the times that he was putting in. So we were matching times, which, as I said, the team and we definitely didn’t expect. Because, as I said, there’s usually that crossover – but I was able to match his times for a good period of time and that’s really what made the race. In terms of how it affects our championship, I mean, last year, I don’t know if we were leading at this point of last year, but last year I think we had… maybe we felt like we were a little bit stronger than we were compared to this year. This year we all know that Ferrari really do have the upper hand pace-wise but I think all around, performance-wise, in terms of strategy and… y’know, because to win a championship is not just about speed, it’s about how you manage things, the strategy calls you make, mistakes, all these different things all weigh up. I think, as a whole, we have hopefully done a slightly better job up until now. So, we’ve got work to do, we’ve got things to improve, we’ve got performance to bring moving forwards. We’ve got to try and catch them – but we’ve got to continue to keep rising with all the other elements, which allows us to beat the Ferraris when they don’t bring their A game.


SV: Yeah. In the first stint, I had a good start, obviously. We knew we had to try to do something different today. I think, as it turned out, probably Valtteri was taking it too easy and obviously, Lewis was able to pull away comfortably. Then, I think, looking back, despite the hot temperatures and so on, I think the ultrasoft worked probably better than we all expected. Obviously we tried to do something different with the soft and yeah, the fact that the ultrasoft lasted very well in the beginning, like Lewis’ pace showed, and also at the end for me, the tyres felt like new once I was ahead of Valtteri, even though I spent so many laps in traffic, showed that I think the ultrasoft worked better. So, that didn’t help to close the gap but I think we did what we could. We effectively passed Valtteri for P2 but then I think I got a bit unlucky with the traffic and lost a couple of seconds, and then obviously we had that little issue at the pitstop, so we ended up coming out behind – and then it was a different race. For sure we knew from the start that qualifying, where we qualified, we tried to do something different, I was happy to do that and I think the pace showed today that we were good. I think if you compare the stint on the soft to the other cars, obviously we were different fuel loads and mirrored strategy but was very good. So, I don’t know. As we’ve seen this year the pendulum seems to swing once this side, once that side, obviously y’know if it’s like this, consistency is the key. Scoring points. I didn't do myself a favour last week but I think it’s part of racing. Stuff happens. Compared to last year, we lost the championship I think because our car wasn’t quick enough to be a match in the final part of the season, despite what happened with the DNFs. So I hope that this year, and I think this year has shown so far that our car is more efficient, our car is stronger and still has a lot of potential to unleash – so I’m quite confident with what’s sitting in the pipeline that we can improve . So, we’ll see. Should be an exciting second part of the year.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, this is your ninth podium in Hungary. That’s more than you have anywhere else. Does that mean that you have more good races here than anywhere else?

KR: I don’t know. It doesn’t really feel like a very good race here, being in third place. I think we had very good speed but obviously what happened yesterday and after the start, we never really were able to use our speed when we were on our own, catching-up. But, y’know, apart from that, you are kind of offset in the position and you know you are going to get stuck once you catch up with them. Obviously it worked out kind of OK because we were both… at the beginning I was giving a bit of a hard time for Valtteri and then Seb obviously, so they never had freedom to slow down and take care of their tyres. And there have been some issues and it paid off, so we both gained one place. But yeah, apart from that it was fun to push because the tyres, at least on my side because I stopped twice, they lasted well and I was able to go full speed. So that was fun. But the end result, doesn’t really feel like a happy finish but y’know, as a team we scored decent points and I think we have a few things to improve and I’m sure we have all the speed to be higher up – but we need to tidy up a few things. I think which way you look it depends if it’s good or bad. I don’t think it’s a disaster but it could be better, for sure.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Sebastian, you had well over a pitstop’s advantage over Valtteri for the best part of ten laps – but you delayed the pitstop, presumably because you were worried about the ultras. Did you wait too long? Was that a mistake. And for Lewis, how to you feel about going into the gap with more than a win’s advantage?

SV: Well, obviously something didn’t go as we planned. It was good that we were faster on an older tyre than Valtteri and pulled a gap. Then I think it’s a bit difficult to foresee the traffic and – knowing how well you go through traffic or not – and in that case I lost quite a lot. So that was one. Then the pitstop, as I explained, but yeah, I think looking back at the race, Lewis’ stint in the first part of the race with the ultrasofts, as I said, Lewis mentioned a crossover close to ten laps. I think the ultrasoft was a lot stronger in the race than it was on Friday, and then what we expected going on. You soft-of know but you don’t know. Obviously Lewis’ information, they don’t call us and say ‘our tyres still look good – you can come in earlier.’ That’s not how it works. And obviously the worst that can happen is that you come in earlier, you gain the position and then you fall apart at the end. You don’t want to do that. I think what we did was OK. But then, as it turned out, with the circumstances and so on, we obviously lost out and we came out behind. Surely, that didn’t help. I think without that it would have been a much more relaxed last part of the race, probably hunting down Lewis, but with the gap that he had, I think it would have been difficult to catch – and then it’s a completely different story, especially around here to overtake. So I think we could have done the catching bit but not really the overtake, so, in the end it doesn’t change much to the final result. Just that it was a bit more work than coming out ahead.

LH: Well, as I said, I really could only have dreamed that we would be in the position that we are in right now, considering all factors and based on our pure performance, where we stand compared to the Ferraris. Really happy, going into the break, particularly with back-to-back wins. I think that boost will last a long time for our team and it’s encouraging for everyone so I’m excited for the break. I think everyone has worked so hard; even for you guys, travelling around the world, it’s tough on everyone so it’s probably going to be good to be able to spend time with family and friends and back off and then the second half is always exciting, it’s always intense, particularly when we go to the long long hauls. Second half is usually… it gets a bit better on our side so we will go and prepare and make sure we come back even stronger.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Times) What are your plans for the summer break? Will it be a break, will you be working, will it be holiday?

KR: I go home with family, come back for Wednesday for testing, after that, go back home again so I pretty much spend the first week flying back and forwards between Hungary and Switzerland and then after that obviously we have some time to spend with the family so that’s nice. I don’t know. In the end, it’s not very long to be honest, it’s couple of weeks at most and unfortunately it doesn’t feel like a holiday when we have things coming up so it’s not like it’s just relaxing completely. It’s nice to have a break but I think also for the teams and for all the mechanics it’s been a pretty tough last month, month and half so it’s nice for them and important for them to get some free time and relax.

SV: If you were a man, I would have said none of your business but you’re a lady so I will be polite.

LH: Did you say an old lady?

SV: No, I said if you were a man I would said it was none of your business but since you’re a lady I will answer your question. Not very spectacular, I will just be home to be honest. Obviously I think we do enough of travelling in planes so I can’t be arsed to go on a plane, I’m pretty much happy to sit in one place and just enjoy. I think we’ve had an amazing summer so far, I hope it doesn’t swing yet because now’s the time for us when we have a bit of time off. I think other than day trips on the bicycle or – I don’t know – doing something boring like fishing or.. I don’t know, it will be quite boring and I’m happy with that.

LH: Same kind of thing as every year. Obviously my life’s a little bit different, I don’t have a wife and kids and that so I’m still in a fun period! I will spend time with my… I am an uncle so I will spend some time with my Mum, my sister and kids which is always great. Then my best friend’s got a stag so that’s going to be interesting and then yeah, I haven’t decided where I’m going for the last part of it. Then my cousin’s getting married so I’ve got a couple of people getting married and stuff so I’m sure there’ll be some partying, I’m sure there will be some relaxing but most importantly I think it’s about re-energizing yourself but the way I do that is activities so I will be trying to be active, training and just gathering a lot of energy. I probably will travel a bit because I like travelling, while I can, until I’m anchored down.

Q: (Peter Varkas – Auto Motor) Sebastian, could you please give us your perspective of the crash with Valtteri? Did you think you have left him enough room, was he too aggressive in the braking and afterwards did you feel something wrong with the car because it seems you lost some parts?

SV: Yeah, I wasn’t sure.  Obviously I felt all of a sudden that I got hit from behind. I think for him there wasn’t really anywhere to go, I was ahead and then when you are so close to another car, I think he… I don’t blame him, I think he had no grip, obviously when you’re so close it’s very difficult to stop the car and I think he locked up and we made contact. For me, I realised straight away that I had a much better run, my rears were in better shape, I got the inside track out of turn one and I had DRS so I was quite comfortable into turn two and knowing that I’d got him and I wanted to make sure that I don’t overshoot the braking but as I said, as soon as I hit the brakes and a little bit later, about when I turned in, I felt the contact from behind. I checked in the mirrors, I saw he was there and then obviously I was lucky that I could catch the car and also lucky with the contact that I didn’t get a puncture, so the team told me straight away that the tyres look fine. Then I had a feel but the car was fine until the end.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, given that this is a Ferrari track and traditionally you’re pretty strong in the second half of the season, do you feel like you’ve got a couple of fingers on this World Championship?

LH: Absolutely not. No, I think it’s far too early and you’ve seen the ups and downs we’ve had from this year, you’ve been ahead by some points and behind some points, ahead by a… But we have learned a lot. I don’t believe there’s ever a moment that you’ve got your hands on the title or the trophy. We’ve got a long long way still to go and there’s still nine or ten races… is it nine races? So a lot can happen moving forwards but what’s really important is that we continue to keep up the pressure and keep working as we have done until now. There’s nothing we really need to alter. I think our work ethic has been very strong and the  team morale is better than ever and the spirit is better than ever. We’ve just got to keep it up because as I said, we came here, we came to the last race, they kind of blew us away a little bit in qualifying, they would have done here had it been dry so we welcome the wet races, that’s for sure. But yeah, I’m not really certain what to expect. We’ve got Singapore coming up; Singapore’s another weak circuit for us so there are a few good ones and a few not so good ones ahead. It’s important to capitalise on those difficult weekends such as this and I think that’s really been a key strength of ours this year, we generally have come away with really good points at circuits which have generally been our weaker races but then we really need to capitalise on the races that we’re really strong at like Silverstone for example which we did.

Q: (Heikki  Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, did it make it special for you that Robin was able to see the race and the podium from such a close range?

KR: Obviously it was nice for him. You need to ask from him! Obviously we didn’t have the full family here, the little one, the smallest one is at home but we will go back there and he’s at an age that he will remember so it’s nice obviously for him, but let’s hope he doesn’t get too excited and wants to go go-karting. It’s not the best idea right now!

Saturday 28 July 2018

2018 Hungarian GP: FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference.

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Lewis, the emotion of getting that pole position today. Wet conditions after a difficult practice session, how does that feel?

Lewis HAMILTON: It's great for the team to have a one-two. Jeez, we couldn’t have expected this. Honestly, the Ferraris have been quickest all weekend and we were just trying to do our best to be as close to them as possible. But then the heavens opened and it was fair game.

Q: We could hear in the cockpit how excited you were, Toto, you will get to see the replay of how emotional he was, the engineers. What were the conditions like though, was it as difficult as it looked for us standing on the sidelines?

LH: It’s so tricky out there. At the beginning it was dry for part of the lap and then at the end it was getting more and more wet. So it’s really difficult to arrive in a corner and know how much grip you are going to have. So that’s massively challenging. And then when it got extreme, you’re just looking for a clean line and really tip-toeing around all the corners. It’s a bit like doing ballet… oh, not that I’ve done ballet, but you know what I mean, you’re tip-toeing and feeling the movement of the car. It’s all about give and take each time as you go round, each corner. I was up and I was down, I was up and I was down. It was and emotional rollercoaster.

Q: Well, you’re certainly the master at the moment, on the back of Hockenheim and then to replicate that tomorrow. I guess it’s head down and go?

LH: Yeah, we’ve got a great position, so we’re going to do our best to work as a team and keep the red guys behind us.

Q: Good luck. On to Valtteri. What a battle that was. You were provisionally on pole there at the end. I thought you’d almost done it.

Valtteri BOTTAS: Me too. Yeah, crossing the line being on the pole and then obviously Lewis had a little bit better lap in the end. It was really crucial, we only had one go with the new set of tyres and yeah, he was quicker on that lap. Obviously he was later as well, so the track is all the time drying up. As a team for us it’s a one-two. But it could have been worse today here.

Q: It’s a front-row lock-out for the Silver Arrows and clean run down to Turn 1, so I’m sure you’ll be up for the fight tomorrow?
VB: For sure. We are free to fight, so I’m looking forward to it.

Q: All the best. We head on to find Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi, third position, the best for Ferrari, but after the starts you’ve been making lately you must be optimistic for the race?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Obviously it’s not ideal, but I think what is the most important and nice thing is that the car was driveable and enjoyable in the wet today. I think I was unlucky with the last… we changed to new tyres and there was a lot of grip but we got behind a Haas and in the spray, as you know, it’s impossible to see and improve, but there was a chance in these conditions today to be quite comfortably on pole but it didn’t happen. So tomorrow is another day and we’ll keep trying.


Q: Congratulations Lewis. Your race engineer came on the radio at the end of that session and described it as “hectic”. Just how intense was it behind the wheel?

LH: Well, I could hear it in Bono’s voice. I guess he was on the edge and nervous, as everyone was. It was such a tricky session, as you could see. We started out with the a large part of the track dry and making the right calls, getting the timing perfect and spot on in these conditions is everything. Maybe you’re a minute too early and you’re on a worse track, or you’re a minute too late and it’s raining more on the track or something like that, so it’s very difficult out there. When they came across the radio and said “you’ve got one lap to make the difference” I was four tenths I think behind Kimi at the time and I guess Valtteri was just ahead of me. He went pole I assume and just to keep it together… everyone is just so passionate, Bono and my engineers and my mechanics, everyone on our team is so passionate about it, so to get a one-two particularly when we know that we were not going to be getting pole here in the dry conditions, the Ferraris were just too fast, but we were just focused on trying to do the best job we could and maybe lock out the second row. So for the heavens to open and for us to be in this position is such a blessing for all of us and we don’t take the opportunity for granted. We’re going to work hard together as a team to try to keep the red behind us. 

Q: Well done. Valtteri coming on to you. Your first front row here in Hungary. Just talk us through the session and your emotions immediately after Q3 when you realised Lewis had got the pole?

VB: Yeah, I think Lewis already said pretty much everything. It was a pretty hectic session and from the team it really required a lot of precision and perfect timing and being very reactive to the conditions. So I think on that, how the team was reacting all through the session, every qualifying, we got that one-two. They did a really good job. Obviously we had to do something as well with Lewis. It was not an easy session. Very easy to make mistakes and in the end it came down to one lap. From my side I felt the lap was pretty good. I was up on the lap time but those last two corners felt very low-grip, sliding a bit, crossing the line knowing I was on pole at that point and just waiting for the answer and they told me that Lewis just pipped me and of course at that point I was disappointed and still am, but I’m really glad as well that we can be here in Budapest one-two on the grid because track position here means a lot in the race so we have a really good chance tomorrow to get the perfect result. 

Q: Very well done. Kimi, Lewis has just told us that Ferrari have the fastest car here in the dry, what was it like in the wet?

KR: Obviously I think it was quite tricky. We did most of the time the right calls. In Q2 I wanted to go with the dry tyres to see if we had time to do one lap. Obviously it wasn’t the case, so it was a bit tricky the one lap with the inters. It was a bit late when it started to rain. But it was enough to get through, that’s the main thing. Last qualification, we had a very… yeah. It’s disappointing not to be the first. I think we had the speed today. I was pleasantly surprised how nice the car was in the wet, because that definitely hasn't been our strongest point. That was great and I was able to drive it at least in the wet. I was a bit unlucky with the traffic once we changed to new tyres. There was more grip and for sure a lot more time, but we got behind Haas and you know I couldn’t really slow down a lot more or else we wouldn’t have time to start and then the spray there was nothing I could have done. It's shame because today for sure there was the speed. But tomorrow is another day


Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) This is primarily for Lewis and Valtteri. Congratulations, the first part of the job is done but tomorrow it will probably be as dry and hot as it was tomorrow morning and yesterday afternoon when you weren’t really comfortable, especially with overheating of the rears. So, how much of a concern is it for you, for tomorrow’s race if it will be that hot? And what about the long stints from yesterday. How confident are you that you will be able to keep the Ferraris behind?

LH: Well, for a track that’s usually been so good for me and worked so well for me, it’s not been really the strongest for me the last couple of years, this year and last year. Even this weekend, if it was dry Valtteri had been quicker than me all weekend. Been struggling with the set-up and the feel with these tyres. The long run was so-so. The Ferrari’s were quicker on the long run – but, as Valtteri mentioned, positioning is really very key here. It’s a track where… this is the third hardest track in the calendar to overtake. So, I think this is really, as I said, it’s quite a blessing. It will mean it’s probably a close race between us all but getting through the stint is going to be key, not going over the temperature limits that we have been facing. Yeah. It’s going to be close. I can’t really tell you what’s going to happen. Just got to get our heads down and keep trying to pull away.

Q: Valtteri, anything to add about the Mercedes pace relative to the Ferrari?

VB: Yeah, I think from our numbers we were the third quickest team on the long runs – so I think tomorrow we really need to get everything perfect from the race start. It’s going to be really hot, a really long race, so… yeah, overtaking is difficult but there’s many opportunities for the cars behind to get us if they have more speed. So we really need to be on it.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Question for all three drivers regarding the conditions at the end of qualifying. Lewis, given the way Q3 was going, just how big a lap from you was that to take pole. And Valtteri and Kimi, did you think your laps had been good enough for pole or did you feel that you’d left a bit on the table?

LH: I had no idea in qualifying that I would be shooting for the front row and pole position. As I went into that last lap I knew I had to put together each sector and really pull something special out, firstly to overtake the Ferraris but also I knew I had cars ahead and around me, so, I think the lap started out well. As I said down on the grid, there were some corners that were not as good as another lap – but it was all about making a compromise, and some to get better in another – but collectively I think it was a very, very good lap. Particularly, I would say, the last sector. I don’t know how it is on the sector times but that felt, that’s where I felt, I really made the difference. It was really about patience and also positioning on the track. Yeah, I couldn’t be happier with it. As I said, this is quite a shock really. I was not expecting to be here so very grateful for today.


VB: Yeah, it felt like a very good lap to me. Especially sector one, two, felt pretty nice. I think in these kinds of conditions, when you go out, when you have one lap to go, and you need to make it on that track condition, each lap is different to another. So, for sure, if you can do the lap again, you can find something. I must say I left something on the table and obviously Lewis was on pole with a similar car, so I’m looking forward to investigating from the data what I could have done better.


KR: I think on used tyres, when I did the lap it was pretty decent. For sure there were places to improve but, like I said earlier, when we swapped to the new tyres it had obviously dried up and for sure there you could feel straight away on the out lap there was more grip – and we never really got the chance to put the laps in because a bit unlucky with the position we were in.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for all three of you, you mentioned timing is crucial in these conditions. A few years ago, with the old engine it was just refuelling the car and staying out all the time until the track has the best conditions. Nowadays there is another factor with the energy management in the car, so how difficult is it to be with full power at the right time? How many laps can you do with full power without doing a push-charge-push-charge thing? How difficult is it?

LH: It depends which mode you use. In those conditions it’s not really necessary to… if you have time to do so several laps, then you don’t use all your energy on one lap. You use a different power that allows you to keep it balanced over several laps. For example, the last lap you use everything. It’s pretty straightforward. It’s not really difficult to… it’s not difficult.

Anything from Valtteri and Kimi about how you manage the session? No?

Q: (Livio Oricchio – To all Mercedes drivers. The fact you have free option to choose the tyre tomorrow, considering Q2 was wet, is it an advantage to you tomorrow – considering the difficulty you’ve had with the ultrasoft. And also, out of curiosity, the fact that you have a little horsepower les that Ferrari in these conditions, could be an advantage?

LH: Well, we didn’t suffer on the softs. The softs were actually, I think, a better tyre for us. If anything we weren’t as good as they were on the ultra. But there’s a difference between the two tyres, particularly for that long straight, so I think it’s highly unlikely we’re going to sacrifice keeping our positions at the start – but again, I don’t know what the team are going to decide but I imagine we are going to start on the ultra, even with the choice. And yeah, who knows where Ferrari picked up their horsepower. Good for them. In our minds, regardless of how or where they get their power from, we just focus on trying to do a better job within ourselves. Just try to improve. A lot of pressure’s on the guys back at Brixworth. They’re just trying to eke out every little bit for upgrades for the future. And then, on the car side, the guys are just pushing flat out. This is such a great horse race, y’know? It’s really about using… everyone’s trying to be at the maximum energy, the maximum one hundred per cent the whole year long – which is a very, very hard thing to do.

Just going back to the question earlier on about how difficult the lap was. You only get certain moments in life. You never get them back. And so when I was going through that lap, I was thinking it’s now or never. Maybe next year I’ll have the chance to come and drive this track but now – at this particular time, at this age, I will never be 33 again and I’ll be in a different position next time. It’s like your whole life… not that your life depends upon it but everything that you’ve worked for comes to that moment, and so the amount of pressure there, or that I put in on myself, is huge. I’m sure it’s the same for all of us.

Valtteri, just to follow up, as Lewis was saying, it’s one of the longest runs to Turn One, is that enough to sway you on to the ultra tyre as well?

VB: I think yeah, we definitely need to analyse everything on that. But yeah, it’s a good question. We’ll need to make decisions obviously very soon. So… yeah, it’s going to be ultra or soft, can’t say it.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) To the Finnish drivers: in these conditions after you both got so close, was this the best ever chance so far to get the first ever Finnish one-two in qualifying?

KR: Well, this is what we’ve got so it’s a bit pointless to if this or that would happen, we’re second or third so the rest doesn’t matter really.

VB: I think we’ve had opportunities before so I wouldn’t say it was the best but… one day, Heikki…

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, congratulations on the pole. You were half a second quicker than Sebastian, you had the inferior car. Does it prove that you are the better driver? Second question is as well, how good is your rain dance because you might need that tomorrow?

LH: To the second question: I think the dance is pretty good but I don’t think we need the rain tomorrow. I’m hoping that we don’t need the rain tomorrow. And on the first part, obviously I know the answer to that question but it’s for you and the public to judge that. All I can do is try to be the best I can be every single time we get on track and regardless of ultimately mine and everyone’s opinion, the results will hopefully speak for themselves so that’s what I put all my energy into. In such tricky conditions with so much pressure today, hopefully the more and more and more I do, days like this, hopefully, bit by bit, maybe we will change the mentality or the thought process of fans who maybe thought one way, shift them to the other way. Who knows? I don’t know why but my following goes up like 100,000 every week so I’m doing something right.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) For the two Finnish drivers: given track position is very important here and also strategy, how much risk are you willing to take, going into turn one, also bearing in mind the incidents we’ve had in the last three or four races?

VB: I think it’s an extremely tough battle this year for the championship. There’s still a long way to go, obviously and every point will count. Of course we always need to calculate the risk but for sure, if you lose track position here it’s not a good thing so for sure we need to go for it and for me personally, starting second of course I want to gain one position and the last thing I want to do is lose positions so for sure we need to do the maximum we can.

Q: Kimi, how aggressive can we expect you to be tomorrow?

KR: I’ve nothing to lose, do I? We’ll do the normal things and see where we come out and… you can plan it as much as you want but things will go quickly and obviously try to make the right decisions on the tyres when it comes and hopefully make a good getaway and see what we can do.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action, Speedsport) Valtteri, a follow-up to that question: normally starting off the racing line here is not ideal. Do you think, with the rain cleaning the track so much on both sides, that disadvantage won’t be as apparent tomorrow?

VB: To be honest I have no idea. I can’t even remember if pole side or the other side is better and especially with the rain, how it’s going to affect… I don’t know how many categories are going to run before the race so we’re going to find out and we hopefully we’re going to approach the race start with a good estimate on how much grip there is so we can make the most out of it. I can’t answer your question.

LH: There used to be a big difference between first and second, the right and the left side on the older surface but the new surface it’s less of a difference if a difference at all. I think the last couple of years it’s been pretty much the same.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Lewis, Ricciardo in P12, Max Verstappen on P7; could have happened to you in these circumstances. Was it so tricky, was the line so thin?

LH: Could that have happened to me? Of course it could have gone wrong, for sure. But it could have gone wrong for all of us. I don’t know what their scenario was or if it was done due to timing but I think our team did an exceptional job today. They brought their A game in these conditions and I guess that’s why you hear Bono’s voice afterwards because it’s so nerve-wracking for them. They’re always trying to do their best, all the teams are, you can’t always get it right but a lot of work goes into understanding days like this and learning how to react and I think our team has shown that they are right at the forefront of professionals. And ultimately we both did the laps that were needed, we didn’t make mistakes through the session.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) For the two Mercedes drivers: a couple of races ago there was a slight weakness on the start that Toto especially said he wanted to address. How much work has gone into that, how confident are you of getting a clean getaway and getting a good run down to turn one tomorrow?

LH: Yeah, it’s an ongoing process. The Ferraris have been very very good on their starts. They have been for years, they’ve always found some way of… It’s obviously a priority every year, they start when they’re doing development, it’s obviously some sort of priority for them because obviously there’s room to gain. The least you want to do is hold position and the most you want to do is gain meters on everyone. But yeah, we are constantly working, there’s a lot of work going on to try to improve but it’s only been a couple of weeks so… But I think we’re in as good a position as we’ve been before so we will see, we will do our best tomorrow.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, qualifying in the wet has been quite difficult for you for some time. Can you remember when you last had this kind of good feeling like today?

KR: Like I said earlier, I think that we’re disappointed where we finished in the end because I think we had the speed but then on the other hand, it’s nice that we can actually drive like it should be in the wet and it’s been a while since we’ve really been comfortable in these kind of conditions and obviously it depends on the day and place and how much it rains but today the car was as it should be and that you can actually push and obviously we had the speed now. That’s a very positive thing and yeah, I don’t know, whenever it was, it doesn’t really change an awful lot.

Friday 27 July 2018

2018 Hungarian GP: FIA Team Members' Press Conference.

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Otmar SZAFNAUER (Force India), Toto WOLFF (Mercedes), Mario ISOLA (Pirelli)

Q: Otmar, in that very seat yesterday Esteban Ocon was telling us that there’s been a lot of interest in him for 2019. What can you tell us about his future?

Otmar SZAFNAUER: Well, I’m glad there’s interest, he’s a great driver and glad we chose him a couple of years ago and have helped him to progress to the point where others are interested. Just happy to say he’s our driver.

And in 2019?

OS: In truth, we haven’t decided yet. If I was to say this or that, I’d probably be proven wrong. Because that hasn’t been decided. He’s got a contract with us, so for us to… for him to go elsewhere we’d have to agree to that.

And a few words on Sergio Pérez’s future as well…

OS: Sergio, every year about this time we start talking to him about what he wants to do in the future. I don’t think it’s a secret that he goes year-by-year with us but that year-by-year has been five years now. Again, we like Sergio, the combination is great. I know a couple of years ago, maybe even last year, we had some issues but those have been resolved and they work really well together now. And as you can see, they’re very close in the points table, maybe one point apart. I think we’ve got a great driver line-up and long may it continue.

Q: Now Otmar, you’ve mentioned the financial constraints your team operates under and Pérez has mentioned it as well just this week. While Force India has always been excellent at performing under such constraints, is the situation now a little bit more critical?

OS: We’re used to operating under such constraints. I think the situation’s critical because the midfield’s gotten very competitive. Where last year probably at this time we enjoyed a bit of a gap to our midfield competitors, that doesn’t exist anymore and, depending on what racetrack we go to, some of our competitors are a bit quicker than we are, and at other ones we are a bit quicker than they are. So, it’s going to be a big fight in the midfield. If you have financial constraints –  which I believe our constraints are great than some of our midfield competitors – it makes it harder. But we’re here to do the best we can and we’ll continue to push and try to get two points finishes and we’re still focussing on getting fourth again.

Q: Mario, there’s a test here at the Hungaroring next week. What’s on the agenda for Pirelli?

Mario ISOLA: We are developing our construction for 2019 and also we are planning to test some compounds. I’m talking about the second Toro Rosso car that is dedicated to our tyre testing. Obviously, teams are testing to check their own development. This is useful data for us to understand how our tyres are working. We had a test in Silverstone just after the race with the three cars and we collected quite a lot of data. We were very lucky because the weather conditions in Silverstone were very stable and sunny. So, we ran the test and I believe we have a new product of next year.

Q: The FIA published the tyre tender for 2020 onwards very recently. What are your thoughts on that?

MI: I’m analysing the document because it is… not complicated but I would say it is different to previous tenders because there are a lot of technical conditions in it. So, we are analysing the numbers that are in the tender. Obviously, we need some time to go that. It’s interesting, with the introduction of 18-inch tyres from 2021 and no more blankets. So, on the technical side, it is a challenge for sure.

Q: Toto, quick progress report, if we could, from FP1. Your cars only fifth and sixth, what conclusions should be drawn?

Toto WOLFF: Before we talk about this race weekend and FP1 session, I don’t want to go just back to business as usual because we are Mercedes and Ferrari are our great friends and at this stage I want to use the opportunity to say that we are feeling with Ferrari and feeling with the family and friends of Sergio and we as well are badly shocked by the events. He was a friend and ally. A great rival and competitor and will be dearly missed.

Coming back to the session that you mentioned. It is very early days. Hungary is always very different to all the other tracks. The heat is just kicking in and through the sessions now we need to learn how to set the car up, and understand how the tyres perform and then eventually, hopefully, be ready tomorrow afternoon.

Q: Driver contracts are done. How important is that stability for the team?

TW: The driver contracts were done a long time ago. At least it feels that way within Mercedes. Even though we didn’t have any signature and therefore nothing to announce. It felt that way since the early stages of the season. There weren’t any stumbling blocks to be negotiated, in so far as I don’t think there was any insecurity on the drivers’ side or our side about whether this would come together. Now it’s out in the open, we don’t get the questions any more from you guys – and that makes it a bit easier.

Q: I’m going to ask you another question about stability then. You’ve made some senior management changes recently. Why do you feel the need to make then now?

TW: Like in any company, you will have a situation where talent grows, develops and eventually comes up and, a few years ago, we identified that we don’t want to create bottlenecks for this upcoming talent and eventually lose them because they don’t see any opportunity any more in the team. The amazing thing we achieved with Aldo [Costa] and Mark Ellis was to identify, mentor and develop that talent. And we had a clear plan with them to eventually put them in positions where they would succeed these great engineers. And that is happening as we speak, over time, over the next 12 months. Mark and Aldo are going to step aside a little bit and this new, young generation of leaders will be coming up. But both of them will stay within the family in roles to be identified – or roles to be discussed in detail. Mark wants to take it a little bit easier. This is a sport that is all-consuming if you give it everything. Aldo wants to spend some time with the family but still be part of the Mercedes family. I’m very proud that we have achieved that transition and were the first team to kind of do that in a structured way.


Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – The Daily Mail) To Toto. I was wondering how you see Lewis’ mood. His mindset at the moment. He said this is the hardest race he’s been involved in. I don’t here, I mean this season and the Ferrari rivalry. That a). And b) his remarks about Sky. Would you rather your driver was going home after a race and watching that – or would you expect him to be out celebrating with some mates?

TW: The most important is that we give everybody his freedom to organise his time the way he feels, or she feels is right. And be non-judgemental. This is how I try to be within the team. We’re all different. Lewis is a four-time World Champion. He knows pretty well how to extract the maximum performance out of himself and, in so far, I think whatever he does after the race, whatever he feels like doing, is the right thing for him. And, he’s in a good frame of mind. We are all pushing very hard in this championship. The hardest we’ve done in the past because with Red Bull and Ferrari we have two competitors that we recognise as great organisations and in so far, I think his behaviour, the way he deals with it, is very authentic. He wears his heart on the sleeve. He gives you guys great content – because it polarises – and for me this is just fine.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Toto, last couple of years Force India has obviously been a good friend for you with Esteban and the opportunity that he’s had there. With the situation that the team’s in at the moment, do you see that as a viable option for next season, even or Esteban or another Mercedes junior in the form of George Russell?

TW: We are still very much friends. Otmar walks the dog and comes for breakfast in Oxford, in my place. So… that hasn’t changed. Force India is a team that we aligned with and we have a lot of exchange going on. It has been a great harbour and a great development place for some of the young drivers. They have taken decisions with us that at the time were courageous – like when Esteban was on nobody’s radar, Otmar and his guys took the decision to take him onboard and today everybody wants to have Esteban in the car. They are a good group of racers that punch above their weight. The way Otmar and his team have dealt with their liquidity struggles is amazing. Competing against some of the works teams and we just recognise that.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Toto, it’s no secret that Mercedes has nurtured Esteban through his junior career and also holds his contract, in fact he said so yesterday. Under what circumstances would you let him race with a foreign engine?

TW: I think that… We have picked Esteban up when Gravity fell apart and the first team that he was actually associated with was Renault. We at the time had just started our junior programme and it just felt right with Pascal and Esteban to give them a go. To date we are trying to set them a path that eventually will make them very successful long term; put then a position to be world champions maybe one day. But with Valtteri and Lewis we have a line-up that is stable, that works for us, and at that stage there is no opportunity within Mercedes and if he has an opportunity somewhere else to be successful as a racing driver and another team or constructor to be successful with Esteban, we wouldn’t want to stand in the way.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) One of the grievances Lewis seemed to have was that he wasn’t recognised for what he did on Sunday in Hockenheim by the TV commentators. Do you think Lewis gets enough recognition for what he does and what he achieves?

TW: Positive headlines don’t sell any newspapers and don’t generate any clicks and I think that he is a polarising sportsman that sells papers. We could talk about philosophy and the digital revolution and the impact on it for a long time but I just think that in the now and here great achievements are never recognised in the way they should be recognised and in five or 10 years we will be looking back and saying we were part of an amazing driver’s journey that will fill books but this is just the way it goes and I think he knows that.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) For all three, this is the fifth year of these power unit regulations and certainly we are seeing some reliability issues, which is not to be expected at this stage. For Toto, is there is a technical explanation for this? Why are we having more problems, your cars, the Renaults, Ferrari had at the end of last year? For Otmar, in this area is there anything an independent team can do to prevent that, being caught out by that, and for Mario, is this a good change, that people are not criticising tyres or having problems with the tyres and blaming them and they are losing races for other reasons?

MI: Interesting question! No, I don’t think so. We try to do our best with the data we receive from the teams and obviously the hybrid power train is working in a different way and we adapt our product to that. I hope that we are not criticised, because we are supplying a good product not because they are having a problem with the power unit.

TW: The product is great.

MI: Thank you!

TW: We are being pushed by the competition. You’ve said that we are in the fifth year of these engines, which normally is a phase where the development slope flattens out; that would be the logic. Mature regulations, which also guarantee great competition because there are not big gaps between the power units any more. But this season is different. Ferrari has a great power unit and they are setting the benchmark from race to race, they are able to extract more, and this is making us push and obviously making Renault and Honda push and you just reach certain limits. But this fight and the rivalry is the reason why we are in Formula 1. We are trying to be the best ourselves and we recognise that, but this is one of the reasons why you see that we are reaching certain limits by just extracting the last millisecond of performance.

OS: My thoughts are that Mercedes have done a great job for us in the last five years; we have had great reliability from them. Your question was did we have an impact on the reliability. All installations are different. We get the power train from them but we have to cool it the way we want to cool it. We’ve got to supply it with fuel the way we want to supply it with fuel and some other things. So we do have an impact on that but predominantly it is the powertrain manufacturer that has an impact on reliability. They do a wonderful job, but as Toto says, we are pushing them now to extract more performance and sometimes that comes at the cost of reliability. It’s no secret that we are struggling on the straights to keep up with Haas and Sauber, so we’ve got to push these guys to gain that advantage back.

Q: (Brigitta Gyimesi – Motorsport Mania) Toto, Lewis’ qualifying issue at Hockenheim and the two problems that struck Mercedes in Austria seem to be very similar to each other. Are you concerned that this hydraulics issue might be a recurring problem that could bite you in the coming races?

TW: In Formula 1 you are never comfortable with anything, because you’re pushing the boundaries. We have seen similar effects by kerbs but the causes and consequences are totally different. We are on top of it, and we don’t expect any of these problems to come back. The outcome, the consequence of the hydraulic failure was the same but the cause was very different.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Otmar going back to what we were saying earlier about the critical situation for the team. Sergio referred to this yesterday. Was he referring to it being critical in sporting terms or critical in more fundamental terms, for the team’s survival financially. There have been reports out there about possibly going into administration. Can you just clarify that?

OS: Unfortunately, I don’t know what Checo meant by that, because I haven’t talked to him, but just to answer: there is a high correlation between critical financial situation and the sporting situation. The more money you have in this game, usually the better you do. But hopefully that will be solved soon and we’ll get back to operating in the normal manner that we are used to. We are just in this critical period, which might last a week or two, we have to keep our heads down, do the best we can here, go enjoy, after the test, enjoy our break and then come back fighting thereafter.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Otmar, your comments about what Toto’s just said, that they wouldn’t stand in the way of Esteban. Does your tripartite contract allow you release him to Renault?

OS: Sure. I mean, we can do whatever we want to do. It’s fine for him to go, but we have to agree to that. I’m sure Toto has persuasive tools, if that’s what we all want to do. We work well together. We had great discussions about Esteban when he came in and if it’s mutually beneficial then of course that’s what we are going to do. We won’t stand in his way. But first and foremost my job is to look after Force India, so I will be pushing to do what’s best for us.

Q: (Péter Vámosi – Question to all. Yesterday, during the press conference we were talking about a race for team bosses. How do you like the idea. Esteban and Valtteri that you, Toto, could be really good against Christian Horner?

OS: Is it team bosses or team bosses’ wives.

TW: Then I would be really good.

OS: Then Toto would win.

TW: If it was between team bosses’ wives I would win. The other thing is I am more ambitious than talented. But I think against Christian maybe it’s still enough.

Toto would you welcome such a race?

TW: I would be up for it, yeah, immediately. Let’s do that.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Otmar, on the Force India situation, how urgently does the team need fresh investment and when do you think that that could be likely?

OS: I think it’s imminent. I know there’s discussions going on in the background. I’m not privy to those because it’s a shareholder issue and I’m not a shareholder, otherwise I would know more. But it will be very soon.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) For the two team bosses: almost every team has a young drivers’ programme and obviously that has helped a lot of talent coming to Formula One, but do you think it’s still possible for somebody who’s not part of any young drivers’ programme from a Formula One team to make it independently to Formula One?

OS: We are his (Toto’s) young driver programme. Just kidding. I think it’s been like this for quite some time. You need talent in racing but you also need funding because even at the lower formulas, motor racing is not a cheap sport. So it’s great that Red Bull, Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari all have young driver programmes because they identify that talent and help them through, be it financially or guidance. Is it possible? Definitely. There are some people who come through who aren’t in a young driver programme. Is it likely? Maybe not as likely as it used to be. But it’s definitely possible.

TW: I think that the best guys will find us. We are looking at junior formulae, go-karting and if somebody really stands out, then all of us having a junior programme will eventually get in touch.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Toto, you’ve got an entrepreneurial nature. It’s probably no exaggeration to state that you’ve probably spent more time in this current role than you’ve spent in any other job in your life before. Could you see yourself taking equity stake in another team like Sauber or Force India, possibly, possibly even alongside your existing role?

TW: Thank you for the flowers! No. When I decided to take up the opportunity with Daimler and became a shareholder of the Mercedes F1 team and involved in the management of it, I had to relinquish all positions of potential conflict of interest and I sold my shares in HWA, as you know, and I also sold the shares in Williams and I will not, neither directly or indirectly, be involved in any other Formula One team.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Toto, you spoke fondly of Sergio Marchionne at the beginning and obviously Maurizio’s not here to talk about anything but I just wondered… they’ve obviously got a lot on their plate at the moment but when things do settle down, and given your experience and your involvement in negotiations with Formula One about the future, what do you think the main challenges will be for the new man, Camilleri, when he comes in?

TW: Sergio was a bigger personality than life, somebody that in the meetings and in the strategy group and in the negotiations with Formula One and FIA had the most powerful voice and these shoes are impossible to fill. With Ferrari, they have a management structure that remains unchanged. Maurizio was very much in charge for running the team and remains our sparring partner in the sport and Maurizio and Mattia and the group somehow are guaranteed that the Formula One team and the operations of the Formula One  team is going to continue going forward like it has in the past. For negotiations with F1, Maurizio is also very much up to speed. He was part of most of the discussions, he represents Ferrari in the strategy group so I think it will give the new man coming in a lot of know-how and a lot of information and insofar I think he’s going to be able to catch up pretty quickly but obviously there was only one Sergio Marchionne.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Mario, going back to the tyre tender, Michelin have suggested that it’s a problem for them to do one year with 13 inch wheels and then move on to 18 inch wheels after that. Is that a concern for you or would you welcome that flexibility to go with one size and then move to another size in the same cycle?

MI: I believe that when you are in Formula One, you can never stop the development so in the statue of the change of size we just change the size, the width of our tyres two years ago and you must be ready to produce any tyre that the sport requires so it’s clearly a challenge, we are interested to apply for the tender. Now the request is to move to 18 inches in 2021, as I said, it’s a big technical challenge but we had many other big technical challenges in the past. If you accept to be here, you accept to put a lot of effort, resources, development and testing in the activity.

Q: (Rocio Andreina Romero Navarrete – Motorlat) Mr Szafnauer, how has the team evolved so fast in the last races? What changes have you made? We can see a difference compared to the start of the season to the mid-season results.

OS: Well, at the beginning of the year, we weren’t able to put all the developments on the car that we had discovered, so it’s taken us time to get the car to where it needs to be and then once you get the developments on the car, there’s a little bit of learning that happens too to extract the performance out of it. We’ve done that now, so I think we’re at a better place than at the beginning of this season and there’s still more to come. We’re not quite where we want to be, it’s tough in the midfield. We still have to push developments this year. Unfortunately the cars are changing a lot next year. The regulations have changed significantly again so we’ve got to make a decision at some point to stop this year’s development and start on next year’s which will happen soon, but we need to develop to a point where fourth in the championship is still possible but not at the great expense of next year’s car.

Q: (Peter Vamosi – Two weeks ago, at the Slovakia-ring, two popular FIA series, WTCR and the European truck race championship, merged for a race weekend and it was a big success. What do you think? Is it a good idea to make something like that with Formula One also, maybe together with DTM or WEC, whatever?

TW: There are other good examples in the past where series have merged. I remember 15 years ago where Mario and I used to play in the Super Racing Weekend and the FIA GT and Endurance format with the European Touring Car championship and with all the Renault single-seater, junior feeder series, Renault two litres, World Series and it was a fantastic place to be, at the track with lots of audience. There were manufacturers engaged in each of the series, therefore lots of guests and hospitality, activities on the track and what you’ve seen in Slovakia-ring is a similar exercise. I think Formula One is bigger than all these series, much bigger than all these series but you mustn’t close your eyes, there could be opportunities out there to invite a series to race with us.

MI: I agree with Toto because it’s important to provide the spectators with a good show for all the weekend, not to stay here just for one hour of free practice or qualifying for Formula One and it’s good to have different series joining. Super Racing Weekend was a good example because it was a mix of sprint racing, endurance racing, single-seaters, touring cars which we have in Melbourne, we had the GTs; in Montreal we had the Ferrari Challenge so we already have in the race weekend a lot of support events that are giving the spectators the opportunity to see something different than Formula One.

OS: I’m not saying we forget but we should always remember that we do this for the fans so if the fans find it useful to do that then absolutely, we should look at it.

Q: (Peter Varkas – Auto Motor) For the team bosses: sometimes it’s crazy to see the rate of the development war between the top teams now. Toto, you had the engine upgrade in France, then in Austria the new aero package, then Ferrari responded at Silverstone with their new aero package, so is it fair to say that the rate of development this year is the highest ever so it’s even higher than before. And Otmar, if that is so, does it make the task for the midfield teams even harder because the top teams are getting all these developments and that makes it hard for the small teams to keep up?

OS: I’ve always said and I said it to everybody in our factory, this is a development race, that’s what we’re in and I think Formula One is at the pinnacle of that. We measure our development rate against the top teams, so we know where we start off.  Do we develop as quickly as they do, are we falling behind and unfortunately, that’s what Formula One is and we’ve got to be prepared for that and you’ve got to have an organisation that’s prepared for that. You’ve got to have the tools in order to develop faster than your competition and that’s what it’s about. So unless the regulations significantly change, that’s how we go about our business.

TW: Yeah, I agree with your assessment. It’s the steepest development rate that we have seen in the last years, on the chassis and on the power unit side.

Thursday 26 July 2018

2018 Hungary GP: FIA Drivers' Press Conference - TRANSCRIPT.

DRIVERS – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), Carlos SAINZ (Renault), Esteban OCON (Force India)

Q: Valtteri, if we could start with you please. New Mercedes contract announced at Hockenheim last weekend. Can we just get your thoughts on that? How much confidence does it give you and what do you feel it says about your performances so far this year?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Thank You. Yes, of course, at this point of the year it’s a very, very good point to know what you’re doing next year. When there’s a contract still to be had for the future. So, yeah, very happy of course, first of all. And really, it also makes me a proud team member again. I think for sure the team, they were evaluating all the options, as always, which is fair enough. I’m really proud also that the team wanted me and no-one else for the seat so, for sure it feels good. Really happy to continue.

Q: Valtteri, we’re at the half-way point in the season. How do you assess how it’s gone so far? And do you feel you’ve stepped-up from last year?

VB: I feel by the end of last year I started to improve quite a bit. I think I’ve been able to carry that performance from the end of last year into this year in general. Obviously where I am in the drivers standing, the amount of points I have, it’s not quite ideal but I know, and the team knows, my performance each weekend and we can see it’s been a step-up from last year.  For sure, I just want to keep getting better and keep improving as usual.

Q: Esteban, while we’re talking contracts, perhaps I could come to you and ask you about contracts. It’s a furious silly season this year, particularly in the midfield, what can you tell us about your future?

Esteban OCON: Yeah, I mean of course you know when there are rumours it’s almost good. It means that people are watching you on track and are quite happy with what you are doing. So, it’s always a nice thing. On my side, I’m always focussed on the job I have to do, and I think yeah, if people talk about you there is always plenty of opportunities. So, we’ll see. I’m not worried.

Q: When can we expect any news?
EO: When there will be something, you will be the first to know.

Q: Subject of contracts Carlos, seems only fair that we talk to you about it as well. What can you tell us about your whereabouts for 2019?

Carlos SAINZ: Yeah – I thought that was coming after Esteban’s question. Yeah. Pretty much the same: nothing has been announced recently. Nothing has changed from my contractual situation together with Red Bull and Renault. Until those two parties don’t move and they don’t know what Ricciardo is doing etcetera, my situation still doesn't change.

Q: What is your priority for next year?
CS: My priority is to find a place that I’m comfortable with. I’ve already spoken about a two-year deal. First my priority is what Red Bull and Ricciardo are doing and then myself together with my management team will find the solution I'm sure.

Q: Valtteri, coming back to you to talk about this weekend. Very few straights here, some engineers refer to it as ‘Monaco without the Walls’. Do you feel you’re coming into the weekend on the back foot as a team, as a result of that?

VB: I think historically for Mercedes it’s not been the strongest race. It is a fact. And we know the tracks where you need the maximum downforce, normally Red Bull has been really strong and Ferrari for sure as well. I think coming to this weekend we can’t say we’re the favourites. We come to this weekend knowing that we can do pretty well if we can get everything right and that it’s going to be again a close battle between three teams – at least – for the win. We’ve been seeing some really crazy races this year and I think it’s going to be a close fight again. We’re not too confident, in a way, but at the same time if we do a good job, everything is possible.

Q: Something of a home grand prix for you this weekend. A few extra flights from Helsinki laid on I gather.

VB: It is. It’s a race where I think most of the Finns, they come to. It means a lot to see so many Finnish flags. Even the local fans here, there’s big support I feel. I think there’s a lot of fans of mine and I’m really happy to see all of them this weekend.

Q: Coming back to you Esteban. You’re just one point behind your team-mate Sergio Pérez in the world championship now. Can you just talk to us about how this intra-team rivalry with him this year has changed since last year? Is it more intense? How do you feel? What’s the feeling in the team?

EO: It’s always been big. The rivalry we have inside the team. I think it’s good. It pushes us up and pushes us to perform better, I would say. Of course, you know, I’m getting more experience. Towards last year I was happier with the job I was doing with the team, and also this year I feel strong. I feel very good at the moment – but it’s a close fight until the end with Sergio. Of course, we both want to finish ahead of the other one. But, you know, he’s pushing me hard, I’m pushing him hard and I like the rivalry we have inside the team. But the atmosphere is still great and we have a great relationship, so it’s all good.

Q: Carlos, very close battle with team-mate Nico Hülkenberg this year. 7-4 in qualifying so far. Can we get your assessment at this halfway point of the year as to how you feel you’ve done at Renault, how you’ve settled in?

CS: Yeah, I think I’ve settled in pretty nicely, especially, I would point out, since Baku, Barcelona, I’ve managed to what I wanted to do to get the car a bit more to my liking. A bit more towards my comfort. And just when I managed to do that I started to do good qualifyings. Looks like Sundays have gone a bit more complicated for me – not achieving, or not getting all the points I would like to get – but those kind of things have been a bit out of my control recently. I’m particularly happy now where I am with the car and the speed I have with the car.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Carlos, to pick up on something you said there. The progress you’ve been making, or you feel you’ve made with the car this season, do you feel the complications, the problems you’ve had recently have maybe masked the extent of that progress that you’ve made; that breakthrough that you’ve made?

CS: Yes. Definitely. I think if start picking up the points that I’ve lost in the last three or four races, for things that are a bit out of my control, I think my position will be reflected a lot better. My team knows that, I know that and in terms of speed, especially since, as I said before, Baku/Barcelona I’ve taken a step forward and I feel a lot more confident with the car. All those, as Valtteri said before, sometimes the points don’t reflect the situation and the realistic state of your championship and your performance.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, in Hockenheim, there was a chance you could have won the race by stewards decision. With all your bad luck this season, how would that have felt, to you, winning in that way?

VB: Yeah. I’m definitely always really hungry for the wins and yeah, of course we always want to win, and yeah, the longer it goes from winning a race and knowing you’re in a car that each weekend there is an opportunity for that most likely. For sure it’s… yeah, I really want to win and for sure it would mean a lot – but yeah, it was not meant to be again. There was different things happening in the race. Obviously when Sebastian went off, at that point I was leading the race. Just in that situation, with the state of my tyres, with the rain, I kind of had no opportunity except to stop so I lost the lead. But yeah, that’s life. We’ve seen those kind of things happening as well earlier this season and I don’t think I’m the only one with those things happening either.

Q: How close do you feel you got to taking the lead of the race, when you came alongside Lewis Hamilton into the hairpin?

VB: Yeah. We did have a good battle at the safety car restart. I think we raced really fair but we both obviously wanted to end-up ahead. Yeah. I think at some point we were completely side-by-side so for sure it was close.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Esteban, when you signed the original Force India contract, just before Brazil 2016, you said you were fairly involved in it and that there were five parties involved? I’m assuming you know your contract pretty well. Could you clarify for us whether Renault has any option on your services or can you only go to another Mercedes-Benz team?

EO: I won’t go into details on that. I’m managed by Mercedes, this is not a secret, but I won’t go into details on my contract.

Q: (Andrea Tajthi  – Motorsport Mania) My question is for Valtteri. As I know you are quite a quick runner, what is your track record at the Hungaroring and are there any F1 drivers who can run faster than you?

VB: I can’t remember my time here. Obviously I do love running and when I had more time, as a test driver, I used to run a lot more of the tracks. I have no idea of the lap time and no idea about other drivers and their running. Obviously we all need to be very fit and I’m sure everyone can run well, but I can’t remember, sorry.

Q: (Péter Vámosi – Racing Line Hungary) A question to all the drivers. In 1971 there was a race in Brands Hatch called the Jack Brabham Trophy, which was a race for team principals. They had identical Ford Escorts, and by the way Jack Brabham won it. What do you think about an idea, today, something like that as a support race for Formula 1, for team principals and who do you think would win it?

CS: I would like that kind of race for sure. And I would like it also for racing drivers, to put all racing drivers in the same car for one race a year – imagine Macau Formula 3 – put all of us in exactly the same car, exactly the same engine, just to check the drivers’ performance. The team principals also, that would be fun. Maybe we could join the two races and we could just have fun for a weekend in Macau or something like that. There you go, my idea! Let’s see if they do something.

Who do you think would win out of the team principals?

CS: Out of the team principals? Good question. Who has a racing past? I think Christian Horner has been a racing driver. Give me ideas?

EO: Toto as well.

CS: Toto also. So those for sure have the best chance but then we would also have fun seeing other people.

EO: Should we be engineers, though? That would be fun.

CS: Engineers, no!

EO: Engineers who tell them what to do.

Valterri, your thoughts?

VB: It would be very good to watch. I think it would be nice to manage them actually, and properly be their bosses.

CS: Their driver coach or something.

VB: Make all the calls and positions and they would maybe get a feel of how we feel in the car.

And who win out of the team principals?

VB: Good questions. I think some of them can drive – at least Toto very much thinks so. No, he is alright, so I think he would be up there, thereabouts.


EO: I agree with Valtteri.

About Toto?

EO: Yeah.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) A question for Carlos. Obviously at this point of the year every year there are a bunch of rumours. One of them, I don’t know if it’s true, I read it, is maybe you joining Fernando next year in the same team. Does this make any sense to you and what do you think about this?

CS: You’re going for the headline here right. No, I cannot comment on it. Nothing changes until I’m not… until my future is not decided by Red Bull or anything like that and Ricciardo doesn’t sign a deal etc my future is still uncertain and I’m not linked with any other team yet.

Q: (Rocio Andreina Romero Navarrete – Motorlat) A question for Carlos. The McLaren opportunity for you: are you ready to beat Fernando Alonso, as until now he has beat all the team-mates?

CS: I don’t know, because I haven’t even though about it, as still it’s not happening. I’m ready to beat anyone in the field. My racing spirit and my competitiveness and my self-confidence tells me that I can take over anyone. Probably Fernando would be the biggest ask that you could have on the grid, that’s for sure, but yeah, I would feel ready for anything.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Valtteri, after what happened in Hockenheim where you were not allowed to fight in the last few stages and given the championship situation, do you think you will still have a chance to race freely for wins or will you have to play a supporting role for Lewis like you did in the second half of last year?

VB: I do believe we are still allowed to race freely. Obviously it always goes case by case but there’s no plan in place at the moment for me being at all in a support role. We are still on equal terms. That’s the plan for now. Obviously hopefully it will continue until the end of the year. Back to what happened, you know, I think with all the difficult races we had on the triple header, we lost so many points with different causes, and I kind of get the team’s decision after lap one. We were side by side a couple of times and they wanted to get those points. I am very confident they would have done the same if I was in the lead at that point. Yeah, that’s how it is.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Going back to this team principal race, and Valtteri, particular what you said, didn’t you have a race against Toto one day? Could you tell us about it please?

VB: Yes, we have raced Toto with a rally car. That was already back in 2008. I remember it was my first proper… It was kind of a test day on gravel track and Toto had done a few rallies before that, for me first time…

EO: He beat you! That’s what you meant; he beat you…

VB: No.

EO: No? Are you sure?

VB: Wait for it. We’re doing lap times all through the day. There was one Austrian rally driver with us; unfortunately I can’t remember the name. And lap times were getting closer, closer, more competitive and by the end of the day I went through to ask Toto how they were…

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, And what happened?

VB: Nothing really happened. Honest. I promise!

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Carlos, in Germany last weekend, obviously you lost the points because of the stewards’ decision. Could you just talk us through what happened on track? It looked a little odd and I think Marcus referred to it as a bit of a strange incident. So what happened from your point of view?

CS: Yeah, this was a very particular incident and a very strange situation. Just after my pit stop for inters I got lapped and I was one lap down and as soon as there was the safety car gave us the notice to unlap ourselves I was a little bit leaped into unknown, not knowing really well who was lapped, who had to unlap themselves and who didn’t. At that point I saw pretty much most of the cars going really slowly, even if you were allowed to unlap yourselves, so I just decided to push, to rejoin the field at the back of the train as soon as possible. I think some drivers got the notice a bit later than me and they were simply not pushing, they had the recharge mode on so I just… particularly with the Sauber, I thought he had a problem on the car or he didn’t want to get to the back of the field because he wasn’t even pushing, so I decided to clear him, just as a personal decision. I was told to give the position back to him, I gave the position back to him but I don’t know if intentionally or not he braked again and he let me by again. So big mess and a bit difficult to understand at that point what is happening, as you can all imagine now because the story is not very easy to tell. (I’m) Always wondering if it is not easier to drop back, get ourselves at the back of queue and recover the lap down instead of having to do a full lap of pushing behind the safety car, everyone pushing flat out to try and unlap themselves, if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s just easier to drop back, go to the end of the queue and recover the lap that you’ve just lost.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Valtteri, can you tell us when exactly you got the call from James Vowles in the race? Where were you on that? Was it the end of the lap, was it part way round the lap, into the stadium?

VB: I think it was more or less into the stadium. I think it must have been around turn 12, so during the first lap after the safety car went (in). In all honesty, I think kind of the biggest of the battle was already there, at least, that lap as it is very tricky to follow. We’re in similar cars, OK, there was a little bit of a tyre difference but the last sector is extremely difficult to follow and it is just unknown if I would have had any other opportunities or not, maybe, maybe not, but yeah, that’s when the call came.

Q: (Viktor Adorjan – Origo GP Hirek) To all gentlemen: we could see during the last couple of races that front runners could overtake the midfield runners quite easily, whatever, recovering from their fallbacks of lost places. Is there something to be done – apart from having faster cars – in order to make life harder for the front runners who are trying to reclaim their positions in the near future to make races a bit more exciting?

EO: I don’t know, to be honest. At the moment, yeah, it’s really easy for them because we can’t fight, we would destroy our tyres and it’s useless to do that because we are not competing in the same league to be honest. Yeah, I see it from that angle, that it’s not my race so I have to let them go and fight for mine. But we’ll see in the future. I’m sure Formula One wants to have more equal cars between teams and I think that would be a good thing for the show, definitely.

CS: No, not much to add, not realistic when you see all these cars flashing by because we are not fighting them. I’m sorry to say that because it’s not good for the show but we are just not able to fight them, it’s two completely different categories, it’s up to two seconds, two seconds and a half sometimes in race pace. There’s bigger spaces between other categories sometimes and they are called different. It’s like that, but I really have a lot of trust in Liberty Media, the FIA that they’re going to push hard to overcome these deficits and make the thing a bit more close because if not, it’s just a top six race and then the rest, as we all know.

Q: And Valtteri, is it as easy as these guys are making out?

EO: Yeah.

VB: Well, it really depends on the track, of course, but on tracks where there are overtaking opportunities, big DRS zones when you have the edge of more than 1.5s, two seconds in the race taking places, yeah, then of course you are always trying to do it quick but it’s kind of a matter of time. Like Carlos and Esteban said, I’ve been in the same situation many many times before and you’re always doing your own race as a team, as a driver, so you always need to calculate the risk on how much you’re willing to risk your race for one position because you can lose five places if you destroy your tyres or something like this.

Q: (Peter Varkas – Auto Motor) Valtteri, going back to the end of the Hockenheim race for a minute, we have heard Peter Bonnington telling Lewis on the radio that he should push, because they were afraid he might get a penalty after all. The difference, I think, in the end, was four and a half seconds between him and you so were you given the same chance to push and were you aware by your engineer that you should push in case Lewis would get a penalty so that you would be able to stay close to Lewis?

VB: I wasn’t aware of his pit stop situation, that he had to go over the line so I wasn’t aware of that, so that’s why I wasn’t really trying to be within one second because everything was pretty much set for us then. I wasn’t aware.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Carlos, you made a big effort around this time last year to get to Renault, even upsetting some people at Red Bull. Are you disappointed that they’re not willing to fight very hard for you and they’re looking at other chances for next year, or do you still think you’re their number one priority to stay?

CS: Well, nothing has happened, not yet, so I cannot be disappointed or happy about the decision that they have taken because nothing really has yet occurred. As you all know, I did push hard last year to join this team because I have a lot of confidence in the project, in the team, and from what I know the management and everyone is happy with my performance and how things are going.

Q: (Giovanni Messi – Valtteri, last year, here in Budapest, Lewis gave position to you to end on the podium at the final lap. But last year you were closer than this year to the championship leader, so do you think that in a similar situation this year, the same thing could happen or are you now too far from Lewis in the championship?

VB: Like I said, I think it really always goes case by case. It’s not guaranteed and a completely identical situation can happen again, who knows? Every situation is treated by the situation but there’s be,en no decisions or anything like that made, that I would be in a different role than Lewis. We are still both trying to collect maximum points, trying to always win the race. We always have an equal chance for that so one way or another, if me and Lewis end up in similar situation, then it’s up to the team but we are on equal terms so I’m still allowed to try and catch him in the points and so on.

Q: (Adrian Huber – Agencia EFE) Carlos, what do you expect from this weekend here?
CS: I think it’s going to finally be a race track that suits our car better. We’ve gone through three or four very difficult tracks for us: lots of long straights, high speed corners where we are not so strong. We’ve brought back the upgrade back in Hockenheim that we finally will run on both cars this weekend, apart from a few other upgrades. And together with the track layout that I think is going to suit the car a bit better with slower speed corners, I think we have a good chance to be the fourth fastest team in qualifying again, which it has been a while since we have been. It would be nice and a big motivation boost, I think, for all the team to go to the summer break with both cars in the points and ? in that midfield group.