Sunday 29 September 2019

FIA Post-Race Press Conference - 2019 Russian GP.

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Lewis, congratulations on another race win here in Russia. That’s Mercedes dominated all of these races here since we’ve come here in 2014. But you were up against it. You were pushing hard; you did something very different on strategy. When Ferrari had that issues, the perfect storm, you capitalised on it didn’t you?

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah. First of all, just an incredible job for all of the guys here this weekend, not giving up, trying new things, pushing forwards, always trying to be innovative and just never giving up. That makes me incredibly inspired and it’s just incredible to have this result today considering how quick they were off the start. Just keeping up with them was an incredibly hard task. But, as I said, we haven’t given up, we keep on pushing and the car was really fantastic today. So a big thank you to everyone here and also back at the factory, because I know they’re all sitting on their couch with their fingers crossed. And we’ve got a great crowd today as well.

Q: This mindset that you’re in Lewis, generally, we wouldn’t see you quite as happy, getting on the front row as you were yesterday and obviously to go out there and get the job done when you’ve struggled to get on top of Ferrari. What now? Are you thinking about the championship only or do you think it’s about winning races all the way to the end of this?

LH: Honestly, I try not to… I say this every season, I try not to think too much about the championship and [take it] one race, one step at a time. I think collectively that’s what we’ve been working on. Obviously it’s getting harder and harder as the season goes on. No, it’s one step at a time; one foot in front of the other, we don’t want to stumble. But of course we have got to keep on putting performances like this in and I know the bosses back in Stuttgart will be super-excited about today.

Q: The team are absolutely rock solid and you can hear it from everybody how excited you are about it?

LH: Oh man, it feels like a long time coming but it feels like the first time as well, so that’s why it feels special.

Q: Enjoy. Valtteri, P2 I guess starting from P4, you can’t be too disappointed with that. Lewis had track position and it was bringing it home to the end.

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, I think starting fourth and finishing second is not bad. For sure, it’s not a win, but as a team, for us it is a big win. It’s been a tough few so it’s good to get back to these kind of results. I had a good race myself. Just the first stint I was lacking a bit of pace, I couldn’t keep up and I was stuck behind one of the McLarens at the beginning. But the second stint felt decent and I just had to keep Charles behind and I managed to do it, so not too bad.

Q: You had that Ferrari in your mirrors. Honestly, did you expect then to have that race pace they did today, because that’s been a strong point of the Mercedes over the past races?

VB: We saw that we should have good race pace for today and we believed we could do it. We really need to raise our game in the qualifyings now but race pace is OK and I had fun.

Q: Charles, the perfect storm happened for Ferrari. Obviously they lost a car through reliability and you finished in P3. I know you’re going to be critical at how it happened but at the same time that’s a podium finish?

Charles LECLERC: Yeah, I mean at least we are quite consistent. It’s good to be back on the podium. It’s a shame for the team not to have the second car up here, but yeah, on our side an OK-ish race. Mercedes are still very quick in the race runs, a lot quicker than compared to qualifying. So we need to work on that, to try to understand and improve that for the next races.

Q: We heard you on the team radio saying that you wanted to swap back, Sebastian didn’t stick to the rules, obviously something was discussed before. Are you starting to lose trust with that, that something wasn’t followed?

CL: I will always trust the team. The tactic was me giving the slipstream to be one-two at the end of the straight, which happened. But then… I don’t know, I need to speak with the team to know better the situation.

Q: OK, and on to the next one. You can look back and the race performance has certainly has been increased, hasn’t it?

CL: Yeah, we were quite quick. I think we definitely had the pace to finish in front of Valtteri but it was quite tricky to follow. As soon as I was getting around 1.5s behind him everything would overheat and it would be quite a difficult time for us. Third today was the best we could have done unfortunately with the safety car.


Q: Lewis, a huge day for you and the team. Just tell us before the start of this race, how confident were you?

LH: To win the race? I don’t think we were particularly confident. We knew that we were on obviously tyre and we put ourselves on a slightly different strategy in that respect and I was hoping that was going to give us an opportunity to dice and fight with them at some stage through the race. But before the race we sat down and we were like, our estimations of whether the soft tyres will last or not, either we’ll be correct or they’ll be correct. And ultimately, I think they were right, because the soft tyre was much stronger than we anticipated. Obviously there was that difference between the compounds, so keeping up with the softs, with their consistency and their speed, was… Oh God, it was so hard. So I wasn’t expecting that. There was obviously that slight tail-off towards the end where I was able to start closing the gap but it wasn’t massive chunks out that I was taking out of them but then were obviously able to extend, we were planning to extend for like 15-plus laps or something like that and hoping that when we came back out on the soft we would have the chance to fight with one of them who is on a different tyres. Obviously safety car and all those things came into it. Valtteri did an exceptional job, because it’s not easy keeping the Ferraris behind and Charles has been driving so well, so ultimately just an incredible day for the team considering the challenges that we have had. I think this weekend we knew that we had have to pull more out of this car and there was more potential there, but we didn’t know where it was. I think we pulled ourselves a little bit closer to the Ferraris this weekend and it was just enough to get ahead of them.

Q: And you got swamped by the Ferraris at the start. Was that the result of you being on the mediums and them on the softs?

LH: I think partly. When we did the laps to the grid, I didn’t have a lot of grip, I don’t know about Valtteri, but I was a bit worried. And then obviously we definitely lost a little bit from the initial phase but then I wasn’t able to get to the tow because he stayed on the left and gave Seb the tow. I tried to sneak in behind Seb but there was a McLaren there so I had no tow down to Turn 1 and I nearly lost another place. After that it was just trying to keep up with them, but it was like trying to do qualifying laps every lap trying to keep up with them because they were so fast. Massive challenge but one I’m really proud of, really proud of everyone and I hope that everyone back at the factory is able to relax for a second but then come back and work hard tomorrow, because we still have plenty of races to go and a lot of challenges ahead of us.

Q: Valtteri, great performance from you today, fourth on the grid to second. How much pressure were you under from Charles in that last phase of the race?

VB: Yeah, for sure, it’s never easy. I think they had a strong car today, good pace and, as we’ve seen this year, they’ve been extra quick on the straights. So I knew if they get close enough, especially in Sector Three, they are going to be a big threat into Turn Two. Just really had to try to keep it together, try to minimise the mistakes and, you know, the car felt pretty decent today, especially with the soft tyre in the corners. So, try to really maximise everything I could in the corners, and try to get a good Sector Three and good exit out of the last corner and that way I could keep the position. But yeah, to be in that position beforehand, I think the team did all the right things today. Already the decision yesterday to start on the mediums to go long in the first stint, you know then, at certain points when you go long in the first stint, you start to hope for that VSC or Safety Car to come – and today it came. Like a miracle. So, that’s always good. So, yeah, bit better feeling than yesterday for sure.

Q: Charles, congratulations on third place – but it was a complicated afternoon for Ferrari. Can we just go back to the start. Can you just tell us about this agreement that was in place between yourself and team-mate Sebastian?

CL: I think everything was respected. At the start, obviously I went to the left to give Seb the slipstream. I knew he would overtake. We knew that. Then we just had to do the swap back, and we did it at the pit stop later on in the race and yeah, then our race went downwards. As soon as Seb had the issue, the Safety Car didn’t come at a great time for us and, yeah, everything was more complicated from then on.

Q: Charles, just to clarify, so you’d agreed to stay to the left and Sebastian was expecting you to hold that side of the track to get the tow. Is that what was agreed?

CL: I mean, staying to the left whatsoever… If there was Lewis and Seb side-by-side I obviously had to advantage Seb and not Lewis, which is normal. So yeah, that is what was agreed.

Q: And how surprised were you that Sebastian didn’t swap back immediately?

CL: I don’t know. I think the situation was quite tricky. There was a Safety Car straight away, so then it was quite difficult. I tried to stay as close as I possibly could for two or three laps but then it was very difficult to follow, especially first and second sector. Tyres overheated and then I dropped back a little bit. But then I was, as I said on the radio, I had one hundred per cent trust in the team to do it themselves, as it was agreed before the race, and that’s what they did at the pitstop.

Q: And any reliability concerns for you after Seb’s engine problem?

CL: I don’t think so. I don’t know. I actually don’t even know what is the issue. First I need to speak with the team but I don’t think there was any concern on my side.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Charles, you mentioned there having one hundred per cent faith in the team to sort the situation, and you did it at the pit stops but obviously the team needed to get involved to sort that. Do you have the trust in Seb after this to honour team agreements? And to the Mercedes drivers, you’ve talked about how good your relationship is, and how hard you work for one-another in the team. How damaging would it be to that relationship if one of you openly didn’t follow a team order?

LC: Yeah, I think the trust doesn’t change and we need to trust each other, Seb and myself, because I think it’s usually important for the benefit of the team in some situations to know that you can count on the other car, and vice versa – I mean in both ways. So yeah. I think it’s very important but yes, the trust is still here.


LH: I mean we work together, so it’s about having respect. And I think the respect  has been there since day one. We talk about the scenarios very openly. Valtteri has always been respectful in all those scenarios and I think it’s vital that we’re both acting accordingly, which we do, I think.

Valtteri, anything to add?

VB: No, that’s fine.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Charles. Do you think if Seb would have given you the place earlier, you could have fought for the win?

CL: Not if the Safety Car would have been the same – I mean at the same time. To be honest, that was our main… the main thing that went wrong today was this. But this is nothing we could have done. It’s a shame for the team because I believe we had the potential to do very good today and, yeah, with the Safety Car at that time of the race, was not great for us. Yeah, that’s it.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for you Charles. You said you gave Seb the tow. Does that mean you could have done anything differently if you would have fought against him?

CL: I actually had absolutely no reason to fight because, as I said, I trusted completely in the fact that we will swap back after, so there was no need to take any risks at that time, and yeah, that’s why I just didn’t fight.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Charles, do you think the second pit stop was not too optimistic – because at the end you lost the position with Valtteri?

CL: I think it was a tricky situation. Because obviously staying on mediums that had already five or six laps, compared to softs that were new. Especially for a restart after the Safety Car. We are, I think, everyone on the grid is struggling to keep these tyres in temperature any time we are behind a Safety Car. If you are on a Medium, already it’s a disadvantage, and if it’s a bit worn, then it’s another disadvantage. So, we didn’t want to take the risk to lose more than one position. I think we did the right choice. Looking back, you can always think about a better scenario – but at that time I think it was the right decision for us.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) For the two Mercedes drivers. Lewis, at the start, you could stay within three seconds of Seb. Was that the limit for keeping the tyres alive and going for as long as possible – or you couldn’t get any closer. And to Valtteri, exactly the opposite. After the restart was the priority just to keep Charles behind, or you couldn’t get closer to Lewis because you didn’t have the pace?

LH: I think that was probably the limit. I was on the Medium tyre; they had the advantage with the Softer tyre which is quite a bit quicker. And then secondly, when you’re towing, two seconds is quite hard to follow. So yeah, I think I dropped back to around 3.3s or 3.5s, but I was trying to keep up. I wasn't managing it, that’s for sure! They were just pulling away initially, and I think once we got to like, 15 or 18 or whatever it was, I started to be able to keep up with them a little bit better and as their tyres started to drop off a little bit, I was able to then start making some headway, and start taking time out of their gap.


VB: I think at that point we were on a similar tyre with Lewis, same car. For me the priority was definitely to try to keep Charles behind. For sure I was trying in the beginning. If I could get a chance at the restart of the Safety Car and the first lap, but there was no way. So, I was trying to balance out in the first few laps to push hard enough to keep Charles behind and, at the same time, try and leave a little bit of margin to Lewis. Because when you follow very close behind obviously you slide and destroy the tyres easier. So, I think the few seconds gap I had most of the second stint at the end was ideal. I Could get a bit of a tow effect on the straights and not too much sliding in the corners. So, that’s pretty ideal. But I have to say, Lewis was very quick today and, especially the first stint, I don’t know why, I didn’t have the pace to match. Second stint was a lot better.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) There’s been a fair amount of concern and criticism raised by the drivers over the direction of the 2021 rules and how much you guys have heard. We know that Chase and Ross gave you a bit more of an update this weekend. Do you feel a bit more informed now? Would you like a little bit more inclusion, even away from the meetings that you’ve attended with the FIA?

LH: I think it’s been a huge step for us to be involved, it’s a big step for all the drivers to be united and I think we’re building a new and better relationship with the FIA, the GPDA and the FIA communicating and I think they’ve been quite open. I think there are things that we ask about and they are like ‘we can’t change it now’ but there’s no such thing as can’t for an engineer. There’s lots of things that can be improved but the thing they did show us the other day is that the amount that you lose behind a car today… what their simulations say that we will lose in terms of downforce behind the new car… I think it looks great, so I’m working as hard as I can to make sure I can stay around for then and get to drive those newer cars. And naturally we don’t want the cars to be slower either – I think they said they’re two or three seconds off so hopefully we can push that forward but some things like weight, we don’t want the car to get heavier but it is going in that direction. But I know they’re working really hard at it.

VB: Yeah, I think, as Lewis said, it’s a good start that we are closer to them and they are actually sharing the ideas with us and I think we have a pretty good understanding when it comes to driving and racing and we’re always happy to give our opinion and I think we have the best understanding what makes us happy and what makes the racing better. It means happier fans and so on so for sure it’s nice to be involved and hope that that really continues.

CL: Yeah, I completely agree. I think it’s very important that, as has been said, we are all united for the same goals. I think our ideas are clear, what we want and it’s important that we are involved because we just feel things that sometimes on the data doesn’t look the same way. It’s a good step.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, you’re 73 points clear of Valtteri, 107 clear of Charles now with just five races to go. Is it difficult, in your mind, not to think that you’ve already pretty much got this sixth world title?

LH: I just don’t try to think about it. It’s not that it’s difficult, it’s pretty easy just to focus on the task in hand and it’s not easy at the moment so honestly just focusing on trying to be the best I can be each weekend, one race at a time and making sure I’m just delivering at a high rate. What’s really impressive is just to see how naturally we’re fighting against the Ferraris who have got great pace but Charles, Valtteri, Seb, Max, Carlos, some of the other drivers are really performing so well. I think it’s one of the best years I’ve seen the drivers perform in terms of just class performances, so it’s meaning that everyone is having to raise their bar including myself. I’m enjoying that challenge and as I said, just one race at a time. The next one is going to be super hard to keep… to trying to beat these guys again but not impossible as we’ve shown today.

Q: (Doria Panova – motorlat) To the Mercedes drivers: another podium, congratulations, but obviously it wasn’t a perfect weekend for you, so what is your opinion about this Grand Prix and what areas do you think you need to improve?

LH: Well, we’ve been very fortunate to have come to Russia and quite incredible performances for many years now. I think the Ferrari had the front row last year or the year before…

VB: Year before…

LH: …and obviously again incredible performance this weekend. I think we’ve done a good job today so it’s ended up being a good weekend but of course we were on the maximum limit and I think those guys are still quite dominant at the moment so it’s taken quite a special job from us today to pull out ahead of them. I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I’ve not spent a huge amount of time in Russia but the people seem so welcoming and just generally really nice people and I think that getting used to Formula One… you know, when you grow up I see Russia and you see the Kremlin in the movies  and you see Moscow and it’s freezing and when I came out here, I didn’t even know that they had a seaside and it’s beautiful. I wake up and open my curtain and I see the sea. I have no clue what point of Russia I’m actually in but it’s obviously got a lot to offer. In terms of the racetrack, I think it’s growing on me and it’s obviously got the great straight. I think we can do better in making it somehow better for closer racing, because the corners are all so fast, it’s very very hard to follow as we are all saying. So perhaps in the future we might be able to make the corners tighter or something. I don’t know.

VB: Yeah, definitely. I’ve always enjoyed coming here, it’s been pretty successful for me personally. I’ve had many podiums and my first ever win for me here so it’s a special place on that side and obviously neighbours with Finland. You say we didn’t have a perfect weekend but we had a perfect day today and it’s Sunday that really matters in Formula One, so happy days! But we definitely have work to do.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Lewis, you mentioned this a bit but Suzuka is a different kind of track but with Ferrari now being quick on the corners and possibly the Red Bull Hondas having no grid penalties, how tough is it going to be between all three of you and the other three drivers from the top teams? What balance do you expect there?

LH: It’s going to be awesome. Suzuka is incredible, it’s one of the most exciting parts of the year and now so more than ever before because you’ve got three solid, incredibly fast teams, particularly pushing each other and having the ability, the potential to win a race. I have no idea who is going to be quickest there. Obviously, at the moment, Ferraris are quite dominant but maybe it will suit our car a little bit more, who knows? Or the Red Bull, maybe. So it’s exciting to go there because that’s a serious driver’s track, one of the best ones of the whole year. The tarmac run-off areas that you see here or around the world…  it’s proper grass and gravel and walls so it’s the ultimate test, I would say, that track, for the car and also for the driver. I just hope that we get to have a good race there.

VB: Yeah, look forward to it. Not much to add. I think it’s going to be exciting, good fight between three teams and between all the drivers and I really look forward to it. Personally, it is my favourite track if I had to chose one so it should be fun.

Q: Charles, how confident are you of Ferrari’s pace at Suzuka?

CL: I think, as I’ve said earlier this week, we’ve been quick in Singapore, we’ve been quick in Monza and both of them are the complete opposites so I think it shows that we are doing some progress so there are no reasons for us to be very slow in Japan, but it doesn’t mean that we will have an easy life. I’m pretty sure that Mercedes and also Red Bull will be very strong there. I’ve only been to Suzuka once but it’s a track I loved, last year I took so much pleasure driving especially through the first sector. It was just a really great experience so I’m really looking forward to going back there.

LH: It’s pretty incredible it’s your second year, only your second year. Already in Ferrari and he’s doing… is it four wins this year?

CL: No, no, you are over-estimating me. No, two.

LH: OK, anyway, that’s still pretty impressive.

CL: Thanks man.

Q: (Beatrice Zamuner – motorlat) Charles, given Sebastian’s DNF today, how much of a concern is reliability to you at the moment?

CL: As I’ve said, I don’t even know what the issue is so for now, I’ll speak with the engineers.  I don’t think reliability has been an issue or a concern from the beginning of the year on our side so I don’t expect it to become one now but let’s see. I’ve got no idea what the issue is so I firstly need to speak with the team to understand what went wrong.

Saturday 28 September 2019

FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference: 2019 Russian GP.

1 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)

(Conducted by Jenson Button)

Q: Charles, all I can say is, wow! What a dominant performance. All of the way through practice, yesterday, today, qualifying – you really are on a role.

Charles LECLERC: Yeah, the car felt amazing. It definitely feels great to be back on pole. I don’t know if it’s the best track to start on pole. The straight is very long after the start. Tomorrow the start will be very important as always, but here probably even more, because of the straight length.

Q: It’s still the best place to be in. The last person to score four [consecutive] pole positions for Ferrari was Michael Schumacher. That must make you feel pretty special?
CL: Yeah it definitely feels very, very special, but I don’t really want to think about those kind of stats for now. I just want to focus on the job. There’s still a long way to go until tomorrow. It’s definitely a good start, we’ve been competitive all weekend long and the race simulation seems positive too, so it’s looking good for tomorrow.

Q: Congratulations. Lewis, I must say, all the way through qualifying, obviously the Ferraris have had the upper hand, but as always you pulled the lap out there at the end and got the best out of the car?

Lewis HAMILTON: I’ll tell you, it was a tough qualifying session, because these guys have some crazy speeds on the straights. They go to another level, you know. That whole party mode you talked about us having, they have something else beyond that – jet mode! Nonetheless, I gave it absolutely everything I had at the end and the team did such a great job to just tinker and push forwards. I’m so glad it came together. I wasn’t expecting to get on the front row for sure, so I’m really, really happy with it nonetheless.

Q: And the great thing for you guys also is that you have the medium tyres for the start of the race. It looks like you knew they would be quick in qualifying so you’ve gone for a slightly different strategy for the race.

LH: Yeah, well we know that they are on a slightly lower drag level this weekend plus they have that power, so we’ve got to try something. You’ve seen the last couple of races we’ve been behind all the way, so we’re fortunate enough to opt for another strategy and I think the team have done a really good job with putting us in that position. It’s a long way down to Turn 1, so it’s not always the best for starts on the harder tyre, but I’m going to try to two the hell out of Charles if I get the chance. But it’s going to be hard because they get good starts as well.

Q: Sebastian, not the easiest qualifying I’m sure. Q1 was pretty tricky: one little mistake and all hell broke loose after that. But, P3, you’ve got the run down to Turn 1 and I’m sure that after the last race, with the strategy and winning that race, there are still a lot of opportunities tomorrow?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, definitely. Obviously I’m not entirely happy, I think I couldn’t extract the absolute maximum from the car. As you said, it was a bit disruptive in Q1 but by the time we got to Q3 I thought it was OK. You spoke about Turn 1, it’s a long way, obviously we’ll see. We’re on different tyres strategies compared to the Mercs, so I think the race will be decided tomorrow. The speed is there so let’s keep it up.

Q: As you said, there’s a long straight down to Turn 2. You guys are pretty quick in a straight line too. For us it’s going to be great watching, but it’s going to be pretty crazy for you guys into Turn 2?

SV: Yeah, first you need a good start; then you worry about the rest, sort of thing. Let’s see. Obviously there’s potentially an advantage if you are behind but I guess if you are behind you always tend to say that, so let’s see what happens.


Q: Charles, you got progressively quicker as the session went on. Where were you finding the time?
CL: I don’t think I had any clean laps before the one of Q3. The first lap of Q3 felt very good. The second lap: very good until Turn 16, where I lost rears, and I lost a little bit of lap time. But overall the car was just coming together. The balance was better and better. I was adjusting a little bit the aero balance and I just felt more and more confident.

Q: And what about your confidence for tomorrow’s race – the long run pace of your car?
CL: I believe that the long run pace yesterday was extremely positive, I think probably the most positive of the whole season, so this is looking good. But it’s going to be an interesting race. I mean, Mercedes are starting on the medium, so I think the strategy will play a role. I think we did the right choice to start on the soft, but we will see tomorrow.

Q: Good luck with that and well done today. Lewis, if we could come on to you. You sounded very happy at the end of the session, happy to split the Ferraris for the second week in a row. How good was your lap?
LH: Pretty decent. It was a pretty good lap. Honestly, it was a really good lap. Last time, Singapore felt like a really good lap as well, it’s just… I was just saying to Charles out there that already by Turn 1 we were already three tenths down or something like that, so it’s very, very hard. But nonetheless I pushed, we pushed, as hard as we could and I was really, really happy with the lap. It all came together. That last one was the best of the weekend – as it should be – and no mistakes or anything like that, so I really feel like I got everything and maybe a little bit more from the car to split the Ferraris once again, which is not an easy task.

Q: Charles thinks it’s going to be a strategic battle tomorrow. Do you feel the same way?
LH: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think the team did a great job to put us on the mediums and naturally from the two tyres there’s obviously a delta and the softer the tyre the better the start. So it will be a little bit tough off the start tomorrow. But even if we were in the lead, if we were on pole for example, they are just so fast on the straights by the time we get to Turn 1, which is the little kink, they blast past us with the jet fuel or whatever it is. So, yeah, it is about strategy, which is why we are on a different tyre and I hope that we can utilise that and keep the pressure on. If you’ve seen the couple of races we’ve had we’ve been right with them but I’m hoping tomorrow we can really give them a good fight.

Q: Sebastian, coming to you, it seemed a good opening lap of Q3 for you but then it seems to slip away on that second lap. Is that a fair assessment?

SV: Not really. I was quite happy in general. Obviously a bit disruptive with Q1 where we got a bit unfortunate with yellow flags and stuff. I thought by the time we got to Q3 that was fine. I think overall I was pretty happy with the car. I just felt that there was more in the car that, yeah, I couldn’t get to. Nevertheless, I think tomorrow is a long race. I think we have good pace for the race. It will be very interesting with the Mercedes on different tyres to start with, so let’s see what happens.


Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Lewis, how important was it to be on the first row for tomorrow’s race? And would it be crucial to be at the second corner first, before the Ferraris to avoid what happened last week in Singapore?

LH: Time will tell. But, of course, if I’m able to try and somehow keep Seb behind, and there’s only one car ahead, for example, that changes things on top. So, naturally we’re going to push as hard as we can but it’s going to be very, very hard. Down to Turn One it’s a long drag – but I’m sure we’ll have a good battle, one way or another.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for all three of you. You all sounded pretty confident that you’re on the right tyre, even though you have different ones. Can you explain why you are confident this is the right tyre you’re starting on? Do you think this has to do with the car that the tyre suits better to your car – or is it only strategic reasons?

CL: On our side I think the start is very important here and we thought that the benefits of starting on Soft was big. And then there was not much difference, in terms of degradation, from the Soft to the Medium. So, yeah, we thought it was worth it to make it our start tyre.

LH: I just wanted to be on something different.

Is that what it now takes to beat these guys? You’ve got to roll the dice?
LH: I don’t know. I haven’t beaten them for a while! So I can’t tell you. I’ll tell you at the end of tomorrow.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) To all three. Charles, this is your fourth pole in a row. You were asked downstairs, you’re the first person to do that for Ferrari since Michael, which is obviously pretty special. Are you on a roll at the moment in qualifying where you feel like you can’t do anything wrong, and everything comes together. And to Lewis and Seb, you’ve both had massive success in Formula One, been on this sort of run – what does it do for you as a driver when you have this sort of succession of poles?

CL: Of course I felt confident going into qualifying but at the end anything… I mean at one point it’s going to end, so whether it’s now or later, I don’t know. So, the only thing I’m trying to do is focus on myself, try to have exactly the same procedure as I’ve had since the last four races and not… yeah, I definitely don’t come in the car thinking it will be easy and that it will come together alone. I just try to keep working as I did in the last few races, and then hopefully the lap time comes.

Lewis, how does it feel? The importance of momentum, invincibility when you’re on a roll?
LH: I don’t know – I’ve never felt invincible. Of course, when you get on a roll, it doesn’t really make… from my experience, it’s nice, for sure but it doesn’t make a difference. So if it’s separated: one pole; one second; one pole, it doesn’t make any difference to me. But he’s stealing all the poles right now, so it’s going to be very, very hard to beat their poles when they’re so fast on the straights but we’re working at it.

SV: I don’t know – it’s been a while for me! Yeah, I think you take every session separately, so you’re not really trying to look back. I think it’s just about nailing every session.

Q: (Dzhastina Golopolosova – The Paddock Magazine) Question to Charles. Mercedes dominated here for five years and today you showed that you can break this trend. What do you think about tomorrow?

CL: For now… I mean the race it tomorrow. It will be very important to stay in front, and they were also strong in the race pace, as they’ve always been since the beginning of the season, so, it obviously feels good to be on pole here. I think Singapore was a big surprise for everyone, for us to be in front and here, I think we felt we had our chances, considering how quick we were in Singapore. Yeah, I mean it feels good to break that but we need to finish the job tomorrow.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Charles, Jenson already mentioned the record that you equalled today with Michael Schumacher but I want to consider with you that there was this past 19 years from that and there are some other guys, for example Seb, who are with you that couldn’t do that. So how is your feeling, to think that today is an historical day not only for you but for Ferrari?

CL: As I said, it feels good but it doesn’t change my approach to the other weekends and as Seb and Lewis said, every time you go into a session, you take it just normally, without thinking about the others, the last poles I’ve had. So yeah, obviously it feels great but I don’t want to think about these things and I just want to focus on the job ahead.

Q: (Giusto Ferronato – La Gazzetta dello Sport) For both Ferrari drivers: in Italy probably now many people are thinking that you have found the solution to win all the races. Is this correct or they are too optimistic?

CL: I think we need to keep our feet on the ground. Obviously at the moment we are in a good momentum, we are having really good performances but at the end it doesn’t change… Mercedes are still quite ahead in the overall championship, which at the end is what matters the most. I think we need to keep our heads down, keep working. Of course at the moment it seems that it’s working our way but I will not say it will be like this for the rest of the season, so we need to keep working.

SV: Not much to add so maybe too optimistic. I think we need to wait until tomorrow. I think at the last race obviously it was difficult to pass. I think Mercedes was faster than us in the race so we will see what happens tomorrow with different strategy.

Q: Sebastian, is this the best Ferrari you’ve driven?
SV: I think the car got a lot better since the beginning of the year when we started to really struggle. Obviously we had a bit of a high at winter testing. I think we understood what it takes and I think the step in Singapore in particular seemed to help us and allowed us to make another step forward. But I think the ’17 car out of the box was probably the best so far.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Sebastian, have you looked at all the data with Charles on the exercise of pole and have you found where he is better than you since the return of the summer?

SV: Well, obviously in qualifying here and there. I think we didn’t have the best sessions on my side. I think obviously today Charles was faster so it’s pretty easy to see where he’s faster but it’s a little bit here and there. I don’t think there’s any pattern standing out, saying that he’s always faster in the same type of corner. As I said, obviously the last couple of races was closer than maybe it looked on the result so we will see what happens tomorrow. Usually come race day I’m getting more and more confident in the car and pace has never been a problem in the race so we will see what happens.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, you’ve mentioned the deficit you’ve got at the moment to Ferrari and where you feel that deficit is so how deep are you having to dig inside yourself for a lap like this? You had a big gap to Valtteri today for example and you said your Singapore lap was also very good.

LH: Yeah. Honestly I feel like that maybe the last couple of laps have felt worthy, like pole-worthy in terms of how this has come together and optimising within the car. Naturally obviously they are faster than us and Charles has done a good job but I mean in terms of being as close to the limit as possible and yeah, I think I’ve just been getting more and more comfortable with the car, I think in this second half of the season, a little bit more comfortable with it, even though we’ve lost a little performance compared to them but there’s still work to do collectively, in all of us, including myself so we just keep working on that. Please don’t write that the wrong way, pole-worthy, I was meaning in terms of what do you… putting the perfect lap together, I feel like each time I’m getting as close to that as possible and then you finish the lap and it’s quite a long way off pole but it feels like quite an achievement to get in between the two Ferraris who have a bit of a delta to us at the moment.

Friday 27 September 2019

FIA Team Members' Press Conference: 2019 Russian GP.

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Laurent MEKIES (Ferrari), Paul MONAGHAN (Red Bull Racing), James ALLISON (Mercedes), Mario ISOLA (Pirelli)


Q: Laurent, if we could start with you please. Ferrari have had a tremendous run since the summer break but can we start by talking about the Singapore Grand Prix. Lots of upgrades on your car. Were you surprised – at all surprised – by the impact they had?

Laurent MEKIES: Well, you know, like you say, we brought a lot of new parts to Singapore, so you are always hoping they will perform at best. If anything, yes, we were a bit surprised to be able to close the gap as much as we did. Nonetheless, we are conscious that the gaps are very small. These guys [Mercedes] or these guys [Red Bull Racing] could have won the race equally, so it was just good to be back in the fight there, and here I guess we’ll have another good data point to understand if it’s going to be the case everywhere or if it’s going to be a lot more work needed.

Q: How tight was the call to pit Sebastian on Lap 19. What did you see on the data that led to that decision?

LM: I think from a strategy point of view, it was clear that we had to pit that lap, and that’s the call the guys made and that was good. Obviously, what surprised everybody is that the undercut, so-called now, was very, very powerful, to the extent that we ended up not only in front of Lewis but also in front of Charles. I think the important thing is that it put both our cars in the lead.

Q: James, while we’re talking about Singapore, it was clear to Ferrari to pit Sebastian on lap 19. Why didn’t you do the same?

James ALLISON: It wasn’t maybe quite so clear to us! I think the thing that surprised Laurent also surprised us, which is just the dramatic power of that undercut. Had we better anticipated that it would have been clear also to us.

Q: Can we expect a more aggressive strategy from Mercedes this weekend?

JA: No, not necessarily. I think everyone tries to play the strategy like a game of poker. You try to line the odds up in your favour. You can’t make a winning move at every turn, you just try to do the thing that, nine times out of ten, is going to play out correctly. And that’s not really a matter of aggression or being passive. It’s just trying to figure out what is the best likely outcome.

Q: And did your car perform in line with expectations in Singapore?

JA: No. We were taken aback by the pace of our competition. It’s an annoying business, Formula 1. You can think you’re going to be good and then find that you get a whipping. We were pretty much where we thought we’d be on race pace but, in Singapore, if you don’t put it on pole, then you line up to be beaten – and that’s what happened.

Q: Paul: you saw what Ferrari saw. How clear was it to you to pit Max on the same lap as Sebastian?

Paul MONAGHAN: Pretty clear. Max was quite vocal in his assessment of the situation we found ourselves in so we got on with it and pitted him.

Q: You went to Singapore as one of the pre-race favourites – so was your car performing in line with expectations or…?

PM: Well, it depends how you claim your expectations. We were not as quick as we’d hoped to be, relative to our opposition. So, if our car performed to its limit, the others were better than us. A little bit disappointed and you lick your wounds and move on, don’t you? You don’t dwell on the race, you learn from it, and we hope we bring the lessons here in subsequent races and into next year.

Q: While we’re talking Singapore Mario, just quick question for you, did the three Safety Car periods help to keep the Hard tyre alive? Without them, would it have been a two-stop race?

Mario ISOLA: It’s difficult to reply to your question because, as usual, the Hard tyre is not tested for long stints during the free practice, so we can just make estimation – but it happens often during the race that we have a different scenario. So yes, on the paper, it should have lasted for all the race but in terms of performance, and keeping the performance to the end of the race, it’s difficult. Obviously the Safety Car is helping the performance life of the tyre. With the Hard tyre, it could have been difficult to switch-on the tyre, a worn tyre, after the Safety Car but they were able to do that – so happy with the final result.

Q: Laurent, back to you. Any reason to think you can’t make it four in a row this weekend?

LM: Well, you know, as we said, Singapore was for sure a good result and as you said, Spa and Monza were also good races – but if you look carefully, it was extremely tight in Spa, that’s the reality of it. It was extremely tight in Monza, we had these guys behind us for 50 laps. It was better than expected in Singapore, with everything that is so specific about Singapore. So, here will be, I guess, a real answer for us when it comes to what’s going to be the pace from now until the end of the season.

Q: James, this weekend, your competitiveness relative to Ferrari in particular?

JA: I think it would be a brave man who would put his house on any one of these three teams because it looks pretty challengingly close at the front. So, I have no idea. We’re going to have to work well in FP2 and FP3 to be able to do well in qualifying and in the race. At the moment, it’s too difficult to say whether that’s going to happen – which I guess is fun for everyone else but a bit more stressful for us.

Q: Paul, this weekend you’re taking a lot of penalties. I suppose with Suzuka in mind. How important is it for Red Bull to perform well in Japan, home race of Honda?

PM: Well, we haven’t taken penalties here solely for Suzuka. We are in our first year with Honda and, if you look at it, we’ve not had an engine fail or anything like that. All the engines in the pool are still there. As part of the programme to get ourselves more competitive, we’ve opted to take just five places here. It will dent us from necessarily being with these guys on lap one – but it’s looking beyond Suzuka, we’re into next year. It would be nice for us to go well in Suzuka, wouldn’t it? But I dare say the gentlemen to my left will have something to say about that.

Q: Mario, its recently been confirmed there will be an extra tyre test in October for next year. Which teams are going to participate in that test and what are you expecting to achieve at that test.

MI: The target of the test is to finalise the development for 2020. We had some addition requests in June and July, so it was difficult to change our development at that time and we made a proposal to have an extra test to test a new compound with a wider working range, especially on the Hard levels. That is not possible in Paul Ricard – that was the last test in September – and, luckily, three guys were available to run the test, so we will have one day each, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. That is a very good opportunity for us to finalise the product for next year.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) To James, Laurent and Paul. We don’t have the finalised 2021 rules yet. We’ve had bits to look at, things that may or may not change. How much progress or exploration have you been able to do with these rules and how intense is that going to make it behind the scenes now you’ve got this season to finish, 2020 to focus on and then a big rule change in 2021?

JA: Well, big rule changes are pretty challenging whenever they come. This one is certainly, drafted is a lot, lot bigger than most and that will make it extra-specially challenging. I would say that, however, the precise nature of those rules is still being discussed. And so the actual amount of work that can be done right now is relatively limited because, precisely where those rules shake out is not yet fixed. But it’s going to be difficult.

LM: Yeah, I think on that front we have been pretty much repeating the same thing all the way through. You know, it’s… we have a very good show right now and we are always a little bit cautious about having such a big change of the magnitude that James describes coming – because there could be a lot of unintended consequences and it’s something that we are still obviously discussing with the stakeholders to make sure we don’t end up with something that is not as good as what we have now. So, as far as Ferrari is concerned, we always felt that Formula 1 DNA was having very different cars and therefore the idea of having some areas very much standardised and some other areas with more limitation is something that we are still hoping to get into better place for 2021.

PM: To answer your question directly, it’s a big challenge, isn’t it? We want to challenge these guys next, we are obliged to look at the 2021 regulations now and, as has been discussed, the negotiation is ongoing as to how they will fall out. So, our resources are being pushed and pulled in many directions and the change proposed for 2021 is enormous. It’s not an evolution as we from ’16 into ’17, you may argue, and yeah, it’s going to be mighty challenging. 

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines/ To all four, how difficult is it to squeeze this additional tyre test into the schedule particularly given the logistics between now and the end of the year and then to the three team representatives, which drivers will you be using and James, will it be Esteban Ocon?

PM: Very difficult indeed. As was just asked, we’re heading to Suzuka and clearly with Honda we want to be in the best shape we can be and now we are being pulled to Barcelona as well, so it’s mighty challenging. But we will do it. We’ve said we will do it; we’ll run a car. I think at the moment Mr Dennis is down to drive it. Jake Dennis, I believe, is going to drive it. He’s driven our car plenty of times before and he’ll be fine, he’ll do a good job for us and we’ll go and do a tyre test.

LM: I think, as James mentioned it early on, and Mario as well, we have been asking so many times things to Pirelli, I think it was only our duty to be able to do this test when they actually ask us to go and test this latest evolution. So, yes, logistically it is complicated but Sebastian will drive there and at the very end of the test he will just fly straight to Japan. But we felt it was, again, a duty towards everything we are asking to Pirelli to support the fact that we all want better tyres and that was the best way to achieve that.

JA: A similar story. It’s tough but it’s doable. The aim of getting better tyres is a noble one. We’re just leaning heavily on people who are knackered but they’ll step up and do it and in answer to your specific question I think Esteban is going to drive it.

MI: We are grateful to the teams that accepted to test for us. I fully understand that it is a big effort of them to fit this tyre test into the calendar, which is very, very busy. It will be the same next year with an additional race, so we are finalizing also the plan for next year. Testing is very important for us. We need to validate our tyres on track. We cannot change the product during the year. We have to do the best we can do during the season in order to homologate a good product for the following season and the only opportunity is to have a proper test calendar. I understand how difficult it is, and thanks to, not just these three teams, but all the teams, because in previous test sessions all the teams were available to test for us and we can do our job. We have a lot of requests, different requests coming from different people and we are trying to summarise them in order to have a shared document with everybody agreeing on that and we try to do our job in the best possible way.

Q: (Lawrence Edmondson – ESPN) Laurent, you mentioned that there might be some unintended consequences of these 2021 changes. To all the three team representatives, do you also share that concern and if so what is it that’s concerning you?

PM: Well, I can’t put words into Laurent’s mouth. We have concerns over the draft regulations. I think it would inappropriate to share them as individual items in this forum. As has been discussed, the negotiation is ongoing and if don’t participate we can’t influence it. If we have concerns, we will raise them. If they are the same as Ferrari’s then it probably adds to the argument. But yes, there are concerns as to the nature of the rules and the drafting thereof.

LM: I think as we discussed before, we are completely in favour of things that could reduce cost, financial regulations and budget cap and so on. We are a bit more nervous and cautious for what it means for Formula 1 when it comes to getting the cars to look alike or getting the cars to be having a lot more standard parts. That’s basically where the difference lies. We could also add that, ironically, to get ready for these 2021 regulations has actually a significant cost implication when it comes to the R&D work that needs to be done. Paul touched a little bit on that earlier. You have to run different programmes in parallel and it comes at a cost.

JA: Not too dissimilar to the other two. I’d just preface it by saying that the discussions about what the regulations will be are still ongoing, so you don’t want to get into too much detail, but the concerns do all fall in the striking the right balance between the desire of a team to be able to produce performance by good design, by good engineering and the desire of the sport to equalise out things. The sport is, to a degree, a Darwinian competition and that’s part of its spice and there needs to be a good balance struck between the desire of the individual teams to fight for their best opportunities and the desire maybe of the owners to level everything our and have it that sort of any team on any day could win.

Q: (Beatrice Zamuner – motorlat) Laurent, given Ferrari’s momentum, are planning on bringing any further updates for the rest of the season or are you just focusing on 2020 and 2021?

LM: I think it’s that time of the year when we are all switching our attentions to 2020 so I don’t think there will be anything significant from now until the end of the season. As you mentioned, on top of that, you also need to start to thinking about what’s going to happen next. So the short answer is there won’t be anything significant anymore.

Q: (Valery Kartashev – Racing News Agency) My question is to the three team representatives - how many people work directly on the car in your team and how difficult is it going to be for you to keep all of them in the team with the budget cap coming?

JA: What do you mean by work on the car?

Q: Engineers, people who design this car?

JA: OK. Forgive me, that’s not a number I want to share in public, because why would we want to just volunteer that? But it’s a reasonable number of people both in engine world and chassis world and our challenge will be to take the budget cap as a new set of regulatory constraints, just as at the moment we have to meet a mass limit or we have to set our car out to get the maximum amount of downforce in the constraints of the Article 3 parts of the regulation. Now we also have some financial regulations and it’s really no different dealing with those than it is dealing with all the other constraints you face when designing and making car. Our challenge will be to read those regulations, take them as they written and just figure out how to make the quickest possible car within those constraints. It will be an interesting challenge but one that like every other regulation change there has been we will try to rise to.

LM: Very similar to James. We will be looking at it as a new set of regulations that we will try to comply with. Yes, so people will always be put at the first place, so the priority will be to protect the workforce and the structures before thinking to cut something else.

PM: Similar really. We don’t build the team structure to have fat in there. So everybody has a significant role. We’ll try to protect all of those. We’ll comply with the financial rules. There’s still a little bit of drafting going on and yeah, we will adapt and comply and go from there.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, This morning the FIA announced that it had postponed the brake tender. What were the cost, safety and performance implications of standardised brakes, please?

PM: Unclear, at this moment in time. The draft specification was being prepared. From what we saw, there were potential cost savings but equally there were some specification changes required to be able to run all the parts as we currently run them, and that was not, for me, concluded. There were quite significant changes in some areas so all said and done, I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was because we hadn’t finalised our work.

LM: I think it will be very difficult to put a number on it, for all the reasons that are linked to the lack of full definition of the 2021 regulations so it would be difficult to project how much will actually be saved. There will be a saving, for sure because we will stop doing some R&D work and so forth and so on. Nevertheless, we will discover them right now and I think you will only be able to put a figure on it, only after a year or two of operations when you know the regulations, when you know what the car looks like and you know what is actually your need, so it’s a bit early on for that.

JA: I haven’t got much to add to what the other folk have said. I think it’s a pragmatic decision. Brakes are very long lead-time items, you have to decide where you are headed with them quite a long time before you use them and the picture is too open. The destination of the 2021 regulations is too open at the moment, to design, with confidence, a standard set of stuff that then the entire grid is saddled with for that year if we get it wrong. It is pragmatic to step back, see how things develop and then re-consider in the future, perhaps under less pressure when the regulations are not being fought on all fronts.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) You’ve all talked about the significance of the 2021 changes and the fact that we don’t have defined rules yet, so given that the season is 18 months away, what would be the ideal start time for you to be working on these cars? And when you get this defined rule set, is that going to be enough time to do things exactly the way you want to do them?

JA: Well, a sort of facile answer to that is that there’s always enough time, it just depends on the quality of what you do changes, depending on how much time you have. There was a time, I’m sure you remember, where the Brawn team managed to put a brand new engine in their car and win a championship in a matter of a few weeks, because they had to do it. So you can do a lot of things in a short amount of time but the standard lead-time for working on a new car is a little over a year so you want to be working sort of November/December of the year before the year before so 14 months or so. A bigger rule change you would maybe want a bit more of a run-up at it than that. But if there was less time you would still do it, it would just be a bit more of a finger in the air job.

LM: Very similar to James. I think, as James said, we could make up the time for most of the items, you will just deliver something a bit more rough and I think in that specific case it’s probably more important that we get the regulations right, even if it comes at a later stage, even. If it means something is delayed to the following years than to have something early that we have then not happy with.

PM: I think, as Laurent said, it would be preferable to have rules that we all agree on before we embark. If that pushes it back a little bit, we can still do a car and whoever’s finger is lucky in the air may well be lucky at the start of the season, you never know. It would also depend on how we chose to divvy up our resources for the 2020 car. So we have our own resources to deploy and the time question, well, it’s the same for all of us once we get going and we’ll do it.

Q: (Laurence Edmonson – ESPN) One alternative that’s been proposed to standard parts is open source parts; do you think that’s something that could work, is there any fundamental issues with doing that and will it also help to  reduce costs but maybe in a different way?

PM: Red Bull are supportive of the open source proposal. What parts you put in and take out needs a little bit of thought. I think it protects the sport from any errors in the standard parts that could take us into 2021 with a legacy of problems and difficulties and we’re happy to participate in that open source proposal.

LM: Yeah, I think it’s better than to have standard parts for all the reasons Paul explained. It’s probably slightly complicated to come up with yet another way to classify parts for the F1 cars but we are supportive of the fact that if it can avoid risk associated with having to have parts (unclear) then it’s good news.

JA: It’s quite a new idea and a reasonable amount of chat is going to be needed to turn it from promising concept into a deliverable reality but like the others, I think it’s worthy of exploring. I think it will take a decree of patience because anything that’s open source – imagine we’re coming up to 2021 – everyone designs up to the wire and then releases and goes racing so you couldn’t sit there waiting for the open sources design to come from a competitor, thinking I won’t do that myself, I’ll just wait for it to appear on the internet, because by the time it appeared it would be too late. So really you’re talking about a system that will build up over the seasons and a database of data that will effectively mean that the best design eventually percolates through all the teams and it ceases to be an area where any of us would particularly want to spend development money because a good design is out there, but that’s the thing that will require a little bit of patience, but I think it is a fairly robust way - if you have that patience - of making progress.

Q: (Alessandro Gargantini – Autosprint) Laurent, question on the Ferrari Driver Academy; you are also in charge of this programme. We know Charles is coming from the programme. This weekend we have Robert Shwartzman who is very well positioned to put his hands on the (F3) title so I would like to ask you how does Ferrari consider the junior programme, how is it investing in this and think it’s the right direction to grow talent?

LM: Well, I think the answer is in the question. The fact that we have Charles in the car today for us is the most straight answer to that. He’s coming from our driving academy, he has been with us for years, it’s been incredible to see him growing through that academy and to see him running the red car. We have seven drivers, from 15 to 19 years old that are lining up next in the academy. As you say, Robert Shwartzman has a good chance to fight and hopefully to win the F3 title this weekend so it means that the next generation is pushing and for us it’s completely key to what’s going to happen post-2021 and it’s certainly something that we’re taking very much as a central point of our strategy.

Q: While we’re talking young driver programmes, perhaps Paul you could tell us a little bit about what’s going on with the Red Bull programme?

PM: Well, we have numerous contracted drivers and they’re all still with us the following year. We’re incredibly lucky to have such a talent pool and we’ll do our utmost to draw the best from it.

Q: James, anything about Mercedes young drivers coming through?

JA: No, nothing that I’d wish to share here.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Ticket prices reduced for World RX finale in Cape Town

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool. 
FIA World Rallycross Championship Cape Town race organisers have announced bargain new ticket prices to make the world title showdown more accessible to a far broader audience of South African race fans, extreme sports junkies and the man in the street alike.

Besides the natural extreme spectacle to be expected from the FIA World Rallycross Championship, Swede Timmy Hansen last week won the penultimate World RX round in Latvia to draw just one point clear of Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud in the chase. And with younger Hansen brother Kevin also lurking large in third, it’s all set to come to a thrilling head when the spectacular title shootout goes down at the Killarney International Raceway 9-10 November. 

Now to make sure that the epic final is accessible to all South Africans, World Rallycross Cape Town organisers have gone the extra mile with the announcement of several high value packages in a range of deals to suit every spectator pocket. They include everything from a new world-beating Family or Group package, to Day tickets for the first time and even high-end VIP Trackside Bar and Hospitality access for those keen to be truly spoiled over that spectacular Cape Town race weekend.

Perhaps the most attractive offer is that super-value Family and Group Package that admits four people at just R900 per day including free parking — which works out to be R225 per person per day for a world title decider — beat that!

Also new for FIA World Rallycross Cape Town 2019 are Single Day Tickets available for the first time at R250 for Saturday’s heats and R300 for the Sunday 10 November title showdown. Cut-price Grandstand tickets will meanwhile ensure you will not miss a second of that title-deciding action at R350 for Saturday and R400 on Sunday.

For those keen on a more chilled weekend at the races, a VIP Trackside Bar Package is available with exclusive reserved grandstand seats and access to a luxury bedouin tent cocktail lounge with a full-service bar, dry snacks, a souvenir program and dedicated VIP toilets at R1750 for a day package or R2500 for the weekend.

Premium VIP Trackside Hospitality offers similar advantages to the Hospitality Bar package, but is located in prime position in a marquee lounge tent at the World Rallycross startline. Equipped with live television broadcasting the on-track action, the hospitality marquee adds a light breakfast, alfresco lunch and an afternoon cocktail hour at the full service gin bar and costs R3750 for a day package or R5000 for the weekend. 

Tickets are selling fast at now. Contact for more on the Hospitality Packages.