Thursday 31 October 2019

FIA Drivers' Press Conference: 2019 United States GP.

DRIVERS – George RUSSELL (Williams), Lance STROLL (Racing Point), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Lando NORRIS (McLaren), Pierre GASLY (Toro Rosso)


Q: Gentlemen, you can see the 2021 car sitting in front of you. I’d like to start by asking you all about it, the car and the general direction of Formula 1 in a couple of years’ time? Max, if we can start with you, please?

Max VERSTAPPEN: It’s a bit small!

Lando NORRIS [mistaken identity it was George Russell]: I was going to say that! That’s my joke!

MV: Yeah, also for us it’s still early days. I haven’t really looked through all the things – I mean it’s just announced. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how it looks like or whatever, as long as it gives us better racing and we can follow better. Of course we want to be within two seconds, three seconds of what we are doing now, definitely, because if it’s going to be about four or five it’s not what we want, because then it feels a bit too slow. But I think this is just the start of it and I’m sure that teams will come up with a little bit of a different look as well, so let’s just find out over time how it’s going to work out.

Q: Ross Brawn has just said that lap times will be similar to 2016.

MV: Yeah, I guess… To be honest I didn’t really enjoy driving the cars as much back then as I do now, but of course you have to find a middle way in terms of what you want with following and stuff like that. Anyway, throughout the season the cars will improve.

Q: OK, let’s get some other thoughts: George?

George RUSSELL: Yeah, from my side it doesn’t really matter how it looks or the speed of it as long as we have great racing. I think that’s what we all want. Obviously the weight is heavier which I think is not ideal for any of us. I mean, even driving like a Formula 3 car it was really fun to drive but it was much lighter than what these Formula 1 cars are. But as long as it improves the racing and brings the field together that’s all I care about.

Q: Lance?

Lance STROLL: Yeah, not much more to add really. I think the main thing is to focus on the racing. We need to be able to follow closer to one another and to improve the wheel-to-wheel racing, the show for the fans, and I think for us drivers, too, it will be very exciting if we can see closer racing. Hopefully it levels the playing field as well. If we can see the gaps reduced to the top teams and there are more opportunities for the midfield teams to score podiums and to fight for positions further up the grid, that would be exciting.

Q: Lando?

Lando NORRIS: I think it’s pretty much been covered. As they all said as long as the racing’s better and we all have a chance to fight for wins in different races and as teams we can all fight for being a strong constructor, I think that’s the key thing. That’s about it.

Q: Do you like the look?

LN: I would change the paint scheme slightly! Apart from that, I think it’s alright. I mean, I’ve seen the renders our designers are designing and it looks pretty cool. I don’t really mind too much, that’s not what I’m fussed about. I’m just fussed about the racing and having fun and being able to follow cars closely and just enjoy racing more than what we do now.

Q: And Pierre?

Pierre GASLY: Well, I agree with all of them, so not much to add.

Q: OK, well Lando, a frustrating race for both McLaren drivers in Mexico. What did you learn from your various problems in Mexico and do the temperatures we’re experiencing here in Austin worry you?

LN: Yeah, not a great race for us as a team, especially after our qualifying position and a good chance to score some more points. I think there are obvious things… I think my race was put down fairly quickly with the pit stop. There’s something that’s easily known and understood in terms of what the problem was, but fixing it isn’t something that is going to happen overnight and it doesn’t happen often at the same time, so it’s not like we’re worried about pit stops or anything, it’s just we can be a bit unlucky and this time it was the first pit stop that I had where I was a but unlucky. I’m not so worried about that; the team have got solutions in the pipeline, which is a good thing for us. We just have to look on to this weekend. I wouldn’t say we are worried about the track temperatures or anything, it’s just how it is. It’s similar to Barcelona in pre-season. It might be a bit more difficult to get the tyres in the right window and so one, but I’m hoping it will play a little bit more to our strengths rather than our weaknesses.

Q: And an opportunity to reflect on your first season in F1. What’s the take-home message from this year for you?

LN: Meh.

MV: You sound like a sheep. I think there is a meme incoming now.

LN: I’m happy with bits of it. There are bits I’m not so happy with. I’ve not made any huge mistakes. I’ve not crashed a lot, I’ve not done anything stupid. But as a racing driver, and I’m sure all drivers on the whole grid would say the same, there’s always room for improvement and things they want to do better. So, I am happy, I think 90% of the things I’ve done, I think I’ve done them reasonably well. It’s just the smaller things – you mess up a qualifying lap or you don’t progress enough on how you work on the set-up with the engineers as much as you want. It’s just putting all the small things together. A bit of it comes with experience, but a bit of I don’t think I did a good enough job in. I’m happy, it’s been a good year, a very enjoyable year, but I want to make sure I come back next year and already in the next races in slightly stronger form.

Q: Thanks Lando and good luck this weekend. Pierre, how’s your health?

PG: Really good. I think that’s about 20 times people asked me since I arrived in the paddock today. It was a rough time last weekend, but everything’s perfect now.

Q: How tough was that race? You finished ninth but you really weren’t… 

PG: Yeah, it was probably one of the most challenging race weekends I’ve had…

MV: The seat [inaudible]…

PG: No, the seat was clean – nothing wrong with that. It was pretty tough from Saturday morning onwards, just in terms of energy and trying to keep the focus. It wasn’t an easy one but I’m happy we went through it. We managed to get the best result we could out of the weekend. Pretty strong qualifying and race, even though it wasn’t easy, but yeah, it was definitely a challenging one.

Q: You say strong qualifying. Both Toro Rossos got into Q3. How much progress have you made with the car recently?

PG: To be fair, the car is more or less the same as it was in the last couple of races, since I rejoined. But I think it’s just trying to extract the maximum from what we have and trying to find the set-up directions that suit tracks and what I need from the car. I must say I’m really happy with the way we’re working with the team. They are providing me with everything I need so we can extract everything from the car. So far we are doing well. We can always do better and we’ll try to keep that form in the next three races.

Q: You say the team is giving you everything you needs. Confidence looks high. Are you driving better now than when you were with Red Bull Racing?

PG: Not really. I didn’t learn or forget how to drive in a couple of months. It’s just a matter of putting everything together. As I said, I’m just focusing on the job to do with Toro Rosso. I think we are doing pretty well. There are always things we need to focus on and improve and that’s what we need to focus one.

Q: Lance, if I could come to you now. Belated happy birthday. Turned 21 on Tuesday. What have you done since Mexico?

Lance STROLL: I mean, just been laying low and enjoyed my birthday. It was nice… I went for dinner and was able to have my first drink in America! That’s a real breakthrough. First time ever in the United States. So that was a lot of fun – but in moderation, looking forward to this weekend. I’m a professional athlete, so I’ve got to be in the best shape I can be for the weekend – and here I am.

Q: Now, it was a competitive showing by both Racing Points in Mexico. Was that track-specific or are you really starting to add performance to the car?

LS: A bit of both. I didn’t have the best weekend myself. It was really my team-mate who had a solid weekend. On Saturday and especially Sunday I had a scruffy qualifying session and then my race was going well until the second stint where I got a lot of lapping events, graining etcetera. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way but we definitely had potential again to score points and it’s looking that way over the last five or six races since we brought the upgrade in Spa. That’s really positive. Looking good for the next three races.

Q: George, coming on to you. The team has been introducing new parts in recent races. How much better is the car to drive now than it was at the start of the season?

George RUSSELL: I think the upgrades we’ve brought to the car recently, it’s more been looking into 2020. We knew that it’s not going to necessarily unlock a lot of performance on the car as it is now – but it’s definitely looking promising going into next year. Overall, the car is definitely nicer to drive. I mean, at the start of the year it was not nice at all, let’s say, and it was pretty tricky just to get around a lap. But we’ve done a good job to fine-tune the balance, just to make it a nicer car to drive – but now we need to rely on the engineers back at the factory to bolt some more downforce on it.

Q: And what about your own development as a driver this year? You said you wanted to learn out of the spotlight, which you’ve been able to do – but what do you take into year two next year?

GR: Similar to what Lando said. I think there’s things I’ve been happy with, things I haven’t been… just experience really. The little things that you only improve on, race by race: understanding the tyres; the starts. It’s pretty tricky starting at the back of the grid, with all the cars around, a massive lack of downforce. Even less downforce than what we’ve got, let’s say. Just little bits and bobs here and there. I think I’ll definitely be a better driver into next year.

Q: Max, just off the plane from L.A. at the fan festival yesterday. How was that?

Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, it was good. Good amount of fans and some good donuts as well. So, that’s always nice to do.

Q: This weekend, believe it or not, is your 100th grand prix.

LN: Same as Carlos!

MV: Yeah, we started together.

LN: That’s sweet!

Q: What does that stat means to you, Max?

MV: Good beginning! And, of course, it all happened very quick. To realise and see that you are about to do your 100th grand prix at 22 years old, I think I would never have expected that – but I guess it’s a good thing. Basically, those five years have gone very quickly.

Q: Just looking ahead to this weekend, you had a cracking race here last year. Onto the podium from 18th. What are your expectations this year?

MV: I think we can have a good race. Last year, coming from the back and then still finishing on the podium was a very good result. Of course, it gave me an opportunity to have a different strategy, which at the end of the day was not a bad one – but now we want to start a bit more upfront and see what we can do. But I think in Mexico the car was working really well, so we just try to continue that here.


Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) Question to Max initially and then secondary question to Lando and George. Max, it looks like Lewis is going to wrap up his title very soon – potentially here, he only needs four points. In competing with him these past few years, what makes him the driver he has become, do you feel, effectively now on the brink of becoming a six time World Champion. And to Lando and George, what does Lewis mean to you guys as British drivers growing up, potentially wanting to emulate him as a future British world champion?

MV: From my side, unfortunately I haven’t really had the time to compete with him that much. I mean, just a few races. Most of the time we didn’t have equal material but he was always clearly the better of the two within the team. And then, when you have the best car out there, of course you can win the Championship. It’s amazing, of course, to go for your sixth World Championship.

Q: Lando, let’s start with you. What does Lewis mean to you?

LN: I guess he’s a guy who I’ve always looked up to since I was young. A driver who I’ve loved to watch. I’ve been very excited to watch a lot of his races since I started watching F1 when I was six or seven years old. So, I’ve kind of not been on the journey but I’ve been able to watch a lot of the races and it gives a bit of… I wouldn’t say belief or faith but it gives a bit of confidence knowing that, or hoping to go into the future and emulate him in a way – but like Max said, the equipment’s very different to when he joined Formula One, when he was with McLaren. So some things aren’t going to be exactly the same; it’s not possible to do the same as other drivers – but there are a lot of things that he’s extremely good at and I would like to improve on and be as good as him on, so yeah, a guy and a driver who’s inspired me and who I’ve looked up to since I was very young.

Q: George?

GR: Similar to Lando. Definitely somebody who I’ve looked up to for a while, since I’ve been wanting to become a Formula One driver but especially in the last couple of years. I’ve gained a huge amount of respect for him, seeing him within the team. I used to think he just relied on his natural talent to jump in the car and do the business but he puts a huge amount of effort in and the attention to detail he goes into is massive. I did learn a lot from him in the years I spent with Mercedes, so yeah, definitely respect and admire what he’s achieved.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) For Max. Just on Lewis. He had some comments to say about you after the last race. Said he affords you more space than other drivers in fear of being torpedoed…

MV: Torpedoed? I didn’t hear that one.

Q: …well, it was part of what he said. And I think Seb also said that he copy-and-pasted what Lewis had to say. I was wondering what your feeling is about those two comments?

MV: Well, looking at Turns One and Two in Mexico, I don’t think that happened. From my side, yeah, it was a bit of a silly comment to make. I think I’m always a hard racer but fair. I think it’s just not correct – but of course it’s easy to have a dig at someone. From my side, it’s fine. It’s always positive when the talk about you. That means you’re in their head, So, for my side, I just focus on my driving and I think that’s enough said.

Q: (Chris Medland – Racer) Pierre, Lando and Lance: we’ve got the 2021 regulations which are aiming to bring the field closer together but for the three of you, competing in a very tight midfield this season, do you really enjoy those battles when the main target really for you is what we call best of the rest, behind the top three teams, and when you do come up on top of those, does it really feel like a win in a junior category or is it quite frustrating to be limited like that?

PG: Well, I do enjoy these tight battles because at the end of the day I love racing and that’s what you get when you’re right there, like six to eight cars within three or four tenths. It brings a lot of excitement to the track on my side actually. I do like it; for sure, knowing that the best you can achieve is seventh is always a bit disappointing sometimes when you need to be satisfied with this kind of result because of course as a racer you want to fight for the top position. When you finish seventh, that’s kind of the first place you can target; you don’t get any trophy, you don’t get any champagne, it doesn’t really taste the same. Hopefully this can be improved for 2021. I don’t have the answer at the moment. Of course I think we have all the common targets with F1 and that’s what all the driver wants so yeah, hopefully it’s going to be achieved by 2021.

LN: I agree with Pierre, to be honest. 2021 regulations are not going to mean we are going to be winning races or we’re going to be on the podium all the time. It’s a much better chance for us to achieve those things and as drivers to achieve those things and experience a podium at one time. It’s going to just even up the field I hope, make racing better, make it  more enjoyable to watch, more enjoyable to race for us drivers because that is something we miss. A lot of the drivers who are in Formula One have done very well in the junior categories since karting, F4, F3, F2, whatever, so we’ve always loved it and it’s part of the feeling we enjoy so much as a team is getting on the podium and knowing we’ve been able to beat sometimes the rest of the field and we’ve done a better job because of it. So it’s something I do miss but it’s not just me, it’s the whole team as well. Yeah, something I look forward to and hope we can take advantage of.

LS: I’ve loved the midfield competition this year. I think it’s been tighter than it’s ever been. You look at the gaps on Saturdays and then on the Sunday how close the racing is, it’s great for the drivers, for the fans. Unfortunately we are so getting lapped by Mercedes and Ferraris, even Red Bulls, so hopefully that can change in ’21. I agree with what Pierre said: it’s great to fight for the best of the rest but when you’re seventh and there’s no reward for that. We’re always trying to score World Championship points but the podium is realistically out of reach and victories are out of the question in today’s sport. I really do hope that we can see some changes in ’21, closer racing as well. That is the priority, I think, with the regulation changes this year, capable of following cars nose to tail but then on top of that, if we can see the gaps reduced to the top teams the opportunity to fight for podiums and wins potentially – that would be awesome.

Q: (John Massengale – Speed City) Pierre, we got to go to Houston with you yesterday to go to NASA. How was it, talking to an astronaut while he was live in the space station?

PG: This was really amazing. I would have never imagined one day in my life talking to an astronaut who was actually in space, I don’t know how many kilometres away but that was just incredible to imagine that just from that fun talking and then getting an answer two seconds later from that same guy who was in space. It was an amazing experience. We got to visit the whole NASA control centre, speak with astronauts who have already been a couple of times in space. Saw some rocket ships – no, it was just an incredible experience.

Q: (John Massengale – Speed City) Max, going to the festival in Los Angeles and the talk of a race in Miami, do you think this is important, not only for the sport but for you as a driver to get this exposure here in the United States, and what do you think about the possibility of more races here?

MV: Well, in general I think it’s good for the sport, the owners as well, they want more races I think in the US. I think what we’re doing, at the moment, is of course trying to make the sport more popular and more well known in the US. I enjoy being here. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Austin or LA or Miami or wherever in America, I think it’s just a very cool place to be. I think a few – or one or two more races, they wouldn’t hurt, as long as they are exciting of course and a lot of fans are attending.

Q: Max, what was the atmosphere like in Los Angeles yesterday? Was there a great atmosphere? What was the reception like from the crowd?

MV: It felt good. They liked the noise as well from the cars, as soon as we were warming the engines already they loved it. Of course it was all very limited, we could basically only do a few doughnuts and stuff but I guess they liked that already but of course it would be even better to show how quick we can go through corners as well and hopefully with those kind of regulations coming in also the racing will be really cool to watch.

Q: (Yhacbec Lopez – Motorlat) Max, do you think Lewis and Seb are more aggressive with you than any other driver on the grid?

MV: I don’t know. I think you should ask them that question.

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Max, it’s for you, unfortunately, again…

MV: It’s not a surprise so…

Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Well, you’re quite topical at the moment. Do you think you’re being treated fairly by the FIA in the wake of what happened at the last race, for your honesty, your brutal honesty, about the yellow flags? And also do you think that you’re getting dug out by Lewis, by Sebastian? They don’t seem to dig anyone else out, it just seems to be you; you seem to be the centre of attention a lot of time.

MV: No, I think it was very fair from the FIA. We had a good talk in the stewards and I said ‘I didn’t see the yellow flag’ but of course there’s a rule that when there is a yellow flag displayed that you have to slow down so from my side, there are also no hard feelings about that. It’s just very unfortunate I didn’t see that yellow flag and in hindsight I also didn’t need to go for that lap time because I was already on pole position but what was going through my head throughout that lap was you don’t know what the other guys in front of you are doing, if they are improving, are they beating your pole lap time? I didn’t see the yellow flag, I improved my lap time, in hindsight I didn’t need to do it but also in hindsight I think next time I’m anyway going to lift even if they would improve my lap time, just because they got lucky, they were in front of the accident. It is what it is but of course…. At the moment we are still not in a position to fight for pole position all the time so of course I was enjoying the moment as well. But still, it was a great result for us, it showed that after the few difficult races we’ve had in terms of performance the car was working really well so that was a big boost even though we didn’t start from pole position.

And then your second question, I think from my side it only shows that I’m in their heads and I guess that’s a good thing but from my side I don’t need to dig in to other people in the press conferences because first of all I think it’s a bit disrespectful as well and I prefer to fight on track which I love to do and of course I like to fight hard but on the edge. Otherwise, if they want me to stay behind, it’s also better to stay at home. I really want to take the fight to them because that’s what we are here for. We are racers, we in Formula One, I think we are the best out there and we do fight for victories because that’s what I live for.

World RX of South Africa support races announced.

Local rallycross and the RX2 International Series will serve as support series to the FIA World Rallycross Championship finale in Cape Town. 

The promoters for the 2019 SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa has today announced that local rallycross drivers will go head-to-head on 9 and 10 November in two fully-fledged support classes for the first time.

There will be races for the conventional two-litre front-wheel-drive rally and rallycross cars, as well as for the high-revving 'big sixes' of the E36 Cup – three litre rear-wheel-drive BMW 3 Series luxury sedan dating from the late 1990s that enjoy a cult following among South African petrolheads.

Each class will compete in two qualifying races of four laps for five cars on Saturday 9 November and one on Sunday morning, 10 November. The top six cars from qualifying in each class will then go through to a six-lap final on Sunday.

World Rallycross and RX2 series cars, are all four-wheel-drive, while local competitors have either front or rear-wheel-drive, depending on their class. This means that the techniques of driving on the 60% asphalt and 40% gravel circuit will be very different from each other, as well as from the World Rallycross competitors – possibly resulting in some unconventional racing lines, particularly in the dirt sections.

World RX of South Africa: Everything you need to know and a bit more.

The SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa heads to Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town on 9-10 November - here's everything you need to know about that adrenaline weekend of racing:

  • New World Champions will be crowned on South African soil in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and RX2 International Series.
  • Timmy Hansen leads the World Rallycross Championship by a single point ahead of Andreas Bakkerud, while younger Hansen brother Kevin is eight points behind.
  • Oliver Eriksson leads the 2019 RX2 International Series Championship by 21-points, with 30 points available at the season finale in Cape Town.
  • The SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa is the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.
  • World Rallycross of South Africa has been confirmed as the season finale at FIA World Rallycross Championship at Killarney for the next two years.
  • SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa comprises dramatic series of short, sharp quick-fire head-to-head races on the mixed surface dirt and asphalt Killarney amphitheater RX track. 
  • 447kW 900Nm 1300kg turbocharged 2-litre all-wheel drive World Rallycross Supercars accelerate to 100km/h in 1.9 seconds – faster than a Formula 1 racer. 
  • The World Rallycross Supercars will be backed by a curtain raiser program including races for 230kW 300Nm 1,210kg naturally aspirated 2.4-litre rear engined all-wheel drive international RX2 machines capable of 100km/h in 3.5 seconds.
  • SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa fans will also be treated to a full support program comprising local racing categories, aerobatic displays, expos, fan zones, food, drinks, apparel for sale and family fun in a fine Cape Town and South African experience.
  • WRX Cape Town 2017 was the first FIA-sanctioned world championship event in South Africa since the 1993 F1 Grand Prix. 
  • Title sponsor SABAT is a household name with a marvellous South African racing history since the late 1970s as home to many driving legends racing cars in the brand’s iconic white and red colours. South Africa’s battery of choice.
  • SABAT World Rallycross of South Africa will be broadcast to 160 countries around the world, both live and through highlights packages.
  • Millions of television viewers around the world will witness the fastest growing branch of motorsport racing at the foot of Table Mountain – one of the World’s New Seven Wonders of Nature. 
  • Cape Town's popular Killarney International Raceway comprises the RX track and the 3.2km main circuit, a short circuit, karting and oval tracks and a drag strip, all of which enjoy regular action throughout the race season. 
  • The twisty gravel and asphalt Killarney RX track comprises aspects of the main circuit and a jump to guarantee incredible non-stop racing once each set of races commences.
  • Killarney first hosted motor racing in 1947 — remnants of the original track remain visible around the Clubhouse. The circuit first hosted an international racing event on its current format at the non-championship 1960 Cape Formula 1 Grand Prix. 
Tickets are available at

World Rallycross Cape Town Travel Packages are available at

Mercedes-AMG Petronas: 2019 United States GP Preview.

Toto Wolff Talks USA
 After we secured the Constructors' trophy in Japan, we said that we wanted to end this season in style and the race in Mexico was the first proof of that. It underlined how hungry this team still is - everyone keeps on pushing for the best possible result. It was the 100th victory for Mercedes-Benz in the F1 world championship - a great milestone in our motorsport tradition and an achievement that is testament to the skill and dedication of the many people who have contributed to our heritage.

The next race at the Circuit of the Americas is only a few days away and we're all looking forward to another fight on track. We have a decent track record in Austin; however, we had a difficult weekend in Texas last year as we struggled with tyre management. The W10 treats its tyres more gently than our 2018 car, so this should be less of an issue this year.

CotA has produced great racing with lots of overtaking, so we hope for another spectacular Sunday in Austin. The crowd is usually very enthusiastic and I'm sure we'll meet a lot of new fans thanks to the success of the F1 Netflix series in the US. It's great to see the growing TV audience numbers in the American market and we'll fight hard to make sure that this year's race will contribute to the increasing interest in our sport.

United States Grand Prix: Fact File

  • The Circuit of the Americas has the joint-third most corners, with the Baku City Circuit, of any track on the calendar. There are 20 turns in total, split between eleven left-handers and nine right-handers.
  • The high number of corners and changes in speed means that it is also one of the busiest laps on the calendar for gear changes, with around 52 per lap.
  • The high-speed first sequence of corners at Austin see the drivers taking the first six corners at an average speed of over 260kph and makes this circuit one of the most sensitive to downforce.
  • Circuit of the Americas is one of only five tracks on the 2019 calendar that run fully anti-clockwise (three of which make up the last rounds of the season).
  • Many of the corners at the Circuit of the Americas were inspired by iconic turns from European tracks. These include the Turn 3-6 complex (similar to Silverstone's Maggots and Becketts), Turns 12-15 (Hockenheim's stadium section) and Turns 16-18 (inspired by Istanbul's Turn 8).
  • Drivers experience 5.0G through Turn 6 at CotA, which is the joint-second highest of the season alongside Turn 9 (Copse) at Silverstone.
  • The braking zone for T12 sees the drivers experience over 5.8G under braking and makes it one of the biggest of the season. This means that a driver weighing 70kg experiences forces of over 400kg under breaking.
  • Turn 1 at Austin is the biggest single corner elevation change of the season, with the drivers climbing over 30m in little over 200m of track.
  • Austin is one of the bumpiest circuits on the F1 calendar with several sections on the straight between T11-12 requiring surface grading to reduce the severity of the bumps.
  • With 44 overtakes in 2017 and 31 in 2018, the Circuit of the Americas is one of the tracks most likely to see positions in the race decided by on-track overtakes.
  • 10 different venues have hosted Formula One races in the United States, the most of any country.
PREVIEW PROVIDED BY: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Alfa Romeo Racing: 2019 United States GP Preview.

The hill leading up to turn one is an impressive sight, much more so in real life than when seen on TV. It’s a towering climb, quickening the pulse of the engineers doing the customary track walks and providing a challenge to those going for a jog around the Circuit of the Americas. It is also a very challenging corner. With its blind apex, just over the crest, it requires a little bit of a leap of faith from the drivers: they pick their braking spot, dive to the left and, if things have gone to plan, just skim the inside kerb before powering down the other side, taking all of the track as they do so. Go too early and your momentum is lost; slip wide, and you’re going to run out of track at the exit.

The sight of that hill is a happy memory for one of our drivers, of course. Kimi climbed up the steep incline after a great start and powered his way into the lead of last year’s United States Grand Prix: it was the start of a commanding performance, a lead he would convert into the 21st victory of his career.

As he returns to Austin, one year on from that win, the contest for the US GP crown reopens. A whole host of new challengers are ready to pick up the fight, not least our very own Antonio – on his first ever appearance here in Texas. He, too, will climb that hill, test his skills on that very crest and add his name to the list of drivers who took on the challenge.

This weekend, the battle will start again. New claimants to the throne will step forward; a new winner will be crowned. But until moment, Kimi still reigns as the most recent winner here at COTA. The King of the Hill is still wearing his crown.

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG
“The race in Mexico didn’t go how we expected, but we must not forget it also brought some positives. We have made some steps forward compared to previous races and we need to keep building on those to be a bit more competitive, starting in the United States. Our objectives remain the same, to fight for a place in the top ten, and we know what we have to do to get there.”

Kimi Räikkönen #7
“I have good memories from Austin, especially last year’s race, but that doesn’t really matter when I step into the car this weekend. Every new race is different and we need to focus on doing our job if we want to get some points.”

Antonio Giovinazzi #99
“We’re back in the car this weekend, an opportunity to improve on last week and have a competitive race. We know that to be fighting at the front of the current midfield we have to deliver a perfect weekend and we weren’t able to do so in Mexico, but this is a new race and we will keep pushing as hard as we can.”


World Rallycross reveals 11-round 2020 calendar.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship has today revealed the provisional 11-round 2020 calendar, with the Nurburging and Portugal's Montalegre circuit officially confirmed. 

In an evolution of the 2019 calendar, Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona (Spain) will host the season opener in April before the championship concludes in mid-November in South Africa. 

The provisional calendar does not include a British, Canadian or Latvian round, but World RX confirms that two locations of the 11-round calendar will be revealed in the coming weeks, pending FIA World Motorsport Council final ratification.

Portugal returns to the calendar after a one-year hiatus. The Montalegre circuit hosted the opening round of the first FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2014, and in 2020 the circuit will host the second round of the championship.

Spa-Francorchamps will host the third round of the championship. While the World RX of Germany makes its debut on August 1-2 at the Mullenbachsleife within the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit layout.

Elsewhere the calendar has a traditional with events in the rallycross heartlands of Hell in Norway in June, Holjes in Sweden on 4-5 July and Loheac (France) in early September.

"World RX continues to flourish as our footprint grows. We have put together a perfect blend of traditional rallycross circuits and bold new venues for 2020," said Paul Bellamy, Senior Vice President of Motorsports at IMG. 

"We are delighted to add Nurburgring to the FIA World Rallycross Championship and equally pleased to welcome back Portugal in 2020 and extend our partnership with the City of Cape Town until 2021.

 “Last year we added Abu Dhabi and Spa-Francorchamps. Next season Nurburgring joins the family and we will have further details of the two other destinations for 2020 shortly.

The traditional FIA European Rallycross Championship classes for Euro Supercar and Super1600 will continue to support world championship rounds as will the RX2 International series.

In addition, to an already thrilling calendar, the 2020 season will also usher in the all-electric rallycross development series, codenamed Projekt E, which will feature at a number of the European rounds of the world championship.

"We are also thrilled to bring Projekt E, the first electric production-based motorsport series, to our rallycross portfolio as further proof of our commitment to a world which is rapidly embracing EV technologies," Bellamy added.

The calendars for Projekt E and the RX2 International series will be released soon. 

Written By: Junaid Samodien

McLaren Racing: 2019 United States GP Preview.

Bruce McLaren won the first ever United States Grand Prix on 12 December 1959. The race was staged at Sebring, in Florida - one of 10 venues to have hosted the grand prix over the last 60 years.

Since 2012 the Circuit of the Americas, in Texas, has been the home of the USGP. It’s the country’s first purpose-built Formula 1 track and its layout plays to the strengths of F1 cars. Sector One is fast and flowing; Sector Two has a long straight and sector 3 has a mix of slow and long corners. COTA is also one of five anti-clockwise tracks on the 2019 calendar.

Carlos Sainz #55
“The US Grand Prix is a very special event for me, marking my 100th Formula 1 start. To be an F1 driver has been my dream and my ambition for as long as I can remember, so to be hitting my 100th race at only 25 years old is a really significant moment.

“After a tough Sunday in Mexico, the whole team is willing to hit the track again at Austin this week. It is important that we keep focused and working hard until the last race. COTA is one of the most exciting tracks on the calendar and always delivers interesting racing, with the entire first sector being very fun to drive in these F1 cars. Getting Turn One right can really pay off later in that sector, so I look forward to jumping back in the car on Friday and getting set up for quali and the race.”

Lando Norris #4
“I’m looking forward to putting Mexico behind me and focusing on the next race. COTA is one of my favourite circuits and I’ve been working hard to prepare for the weekend. Having taken part in FP1 last year, it’s not a completely new track to me, so I know I’ll be able to hit the ground running on Friday.

“We know that the battle for fourth place isn’t quite wrapped up yet, so we’ll be pushing hard to maximise our championship position in Austin.”

Andreas Seidl - Team Principal
“After a Sunday to forget in Mexico, we head north to the US in anticipation of an exciting race. We’re looking to learn from last weekend and come back stronger for the final three races. We know that the Constructors’ is not done until its done, so we need to keep it in our hands as we see the season out.

“A back-to-back always poses operational challenges, especially at the fly-aways, but we’re prepared and focussed on performing at 100 per cent in Austin.”


Red Bull Racing: 2019 United States GP Preview.

Alex Albon #23
"I’ve never driven the track in Austin but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. The circuit looks really fun, especially the first sector, and it’s a bit like Suzuka so I’m excited to get there and experience it. The US Grand Prix seems like a cool race, I think you have a bit more downforce on the car than in Mexico which makes it more fun to drive. This will also be my first proper time in America so I’m excited to experience the culture and of course the food! On the simulator, the track seemed quite bumpy and I think it’s built on a marshland if I’m not mistaken, so apparently you can feel that. On this kind of track, it’s very much about rhythm so it will be important to get into that early in the weekend. There’s also more run off areas so you can push the limits a bit further, but not too far! I think Mexico was a good weekend and probably one of my best races in terms of pace since joining the Team, so I’m even more excited to get to the track and continue that momentum."

Max Verstappen #33
"It’s always good to be back in Austin and it’s a cool track to have my 100th F1 race at. I enjoy America in general and especially Texas. I really like the track, it’s quite bumpy for a new circuit and it’s got a good combination of old school corners which makes it very nice to drive. Our car should hopefully be pretty competitive there and we had a fun race last year coming from the back through to the podium. A lot is possible at this track as there are so many good overtaking opportunities which makes things interesting in the race. Sixth in Mexico was not where we hoped to finish as the car was so quick but it was a decent recovery from 20th after everything that happened early in the race. Before Austin, we’re stopping in LA for the Hollywood F1 Festival which I’m looking forward to and it’s always fun to get the crowd excited with a few donuts!"


Tuesday 29 October 2019

Renault F1 Team: 2019 United States GP Preview.

PHOTO CREDIT: Renault F1 Team.
Nico Hülkenberg #27
"Austin has a really cool vibe, so it’s always fun going to Texas for this race. It’s a great event, always a lot going on, so it’s enjoyable for us drivers, the team and also the fans. In terms of the circuit, it’s one of the more challenging and fun ones for a driver. You could say it has similarities to places like Silverstone or Suzuka; ultimate driving tracks where there are fast changes of direction, brave corners and little room for error. It’s a very well-designed circuit. Clearly, it was a pity not to have scored more points [in Mexico] and that was down to a number of factors. Thinking of the positives, we turned around our qualifying result into points and the team showed great spirit throughout the weekend with everything going on. I enjoy racing in Austin, my mindset is on doing a good job and there’s no reason why we can’t do that."

What do you like about the US Grand Prix?
Austin has a really cool vibe, so it’s always fun going to Texas for this race. It’s a great event, always a lot going on, so it’s enjoyable for us drivers, the team and also the fans. I like food, and the United States is very good for that; steaks, burgers, all the cheat things. It’s a quick turnaround from Mexico but it’s quite nice to keep in this rhythm and get straight back to racing.

What’s the circuit like to drive?
In terms of the circuit, it’s one of the more challenging and fun ones for a driver. You could say it has similarities to places like Silverstone or Suzuka; ultimate driving tracks where there are fast changes of direction, brave corners and little room for error. It’s a very well-designed circuit. It has a great flow to it where you have to get into a rhythm. It flows at high-speed and that’s what I love in a modern Formula 1 car. Balance is important and it’s about finding a compromise between the medium to high speed corners and also the two long straights. We enjoyed a great team result there last year, it was a very memorable weekend, which we’re keen to repeat.

What are your thoughts after the last race?
Clearly, it was a pity not to have scored more points and that was down to a number of factors. Thinking of the positives, we turned around our qualifying result into points and the team showed great spirit throughout the weekend with everything going on. I enjoy racing in Austin, my mindset is on doing a good job and there’s no reason why we can’t do that.

Daniel Ricciardo #3
"I love the USA and the city of Austin. I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles and I really enjoy the American vibe. Austin is one of the highlights of the year, for me. The racing spectacle is great, the atmosphere in the paddock, and in Austin itself, is always good, so that makes it a very fun one to attend. This year, it’s really exciting to be taking part in the Los Angeles Fan Festival on Hollywood Boulevard. Driving a Formula 1 car there will be seriously cool, so I’m looking forward to putting on a show and doing some donuts there! Mexico was a fun race for us. We did well to make the Hard tyre last on our first stint and that put us in really good stead to work our way through the order.

It’s important we keep the positivity within the team and the results will follow. We’re moving forward with all eyes on some Texan success. Let’s go, ya’ll!"

Why do you love the US Grand Prix?
I love the USA and the city of Austin. I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles and I really enjoy the American vibe. Austin is one of the highlights of the year, for me. The racing spectacle is great, the atmosphere in the paddock, and in Austin itself, is always good, so that makes it a very fun one to attend. This year, it’s really exciting to be taking part in the Los Angeles Fan Festival on Hollywood Boulevard. Driving a Formula 1 car there will be seriously cool, so I’m looking forward to putting on a show and doing some donuts there!

How much do you enjoy the Circuit of the Americas?
The Circuit of the Americas is one of the best circuits we go to on the calendar. I like that it’s fast and brings some cool challenges especially the right, left, right in sector one, snaking up the hill. There are also overtaking opportunities throughout, so plenty of scope to send one on race day. We missed out on Checo [Sergio Perez] in Mexico, so there’s extra motivation to make them stick this weekend. The flowing nature also allows close battles and that’s why it’s always a fun race.

What’s the mood heading into this race weekend?
Mexico was a fun race for us. We did well to make the Hard tyre last on our first stint and that put us in really good stead to work our way through the order. Seventh was there to take, that got away, but we’ll be aiming for more this weekend in Austin. It’s important we keep the positivity within the team and the results will follow. We’re moving forward with all eyes on some Texan success. Let’s go, ya’ll!


Williams Racing: 2019 United States GP Preview.

We cross the border for the final leg of the last back-to-back of the season, as we go Stateside for Round 19 of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Austin’s popular Circuit of the Americas is a favourite amongst drivers and fans, not least due to its lively off-track atmosphere.

The United States Grand Prix is a new track for both Robert and George, but one that they are looking forward to. Nicholas Latifi will drive his penultimate FP1 of the season, this time in George’s car.

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
For the second of the back-to-back races, we head north to Austin and the COTA circuit. Since it joined the Formula One calendar, the Circuit of the Americas has been a firm favourite with the drivers and fans alike. The circuit features a series of signature corners as well as the daunting climb up to T1, which adds to the spectacle of the race start.

The weather in Austin in October can range from very cold to oppressively hot and can change rapidly. Where 2019 ends up in this range of conditions will dictate how the tyres behave and will likely have a large influence on the race result. To cope with the demands of this circuit, Pirelli have again provided the three middle compounds from their range. Although the same compounds as raced in Mexico, their behaviour will be different, and a typical Friday programme will involve understanding their performance at low and high fuel.

With the end of the 2019 season almost in sight, we begin in earnest our trackside preparations for 2020 with some additional tyres testing on Friday. Pirelli have provided each car with 2 sets of tyres in the 2020 construction and so we can expect to see more running than usual during FP1 and FP2 as the teams begin their preparations ahead of the post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test.

Nicholas joins us again this weekend, this time driving George’s car in FP1. Our programme will include further aerodynamic testing, 2020 tyre testing, and our usual qualifying and race preparation. If the weather is kind, then Friday could be an extremely busy day.

Robert Kubica #88
I know very little about the track in Austin. I know what I have seen from footage and the simulator, but it will be a new track for me. From what I can see it looks like a challenging circuit, especially the first part of it. However, I am looking forward to a new experience.

George Russell #63
Austin is a track and a race that I have been looking forward to for a very long time. Out of the newer circuits it is definitely the best one out there, it has such an amazing flow to it. It is a track similar to Silverstone, with an incredibly fun first sector. I have been there the last two years and it was always a great atmosphere, so I am really looking forward to it.

Nicholas Latifi
Coming off an FP1 last week I feel that I am more in the rhythm of the car, which is important when you only have a limited number of laps in the session. Austin in probably one of the tracks on the calendar that I am most looking forward to driving that I have not yet driven. It seems like a track that has a bit of everything and the first sector, with all the fast-flowing corners, is exactly what I love in these high downforce cars.  It’s not so often that I get to drive new tracks for the first time so I’m looking forward to that challenge and hopefully I’ll be able to get up to speed quickly.


Racing Point: 2019 United States GP Preview.

Lance Stroll #18
“Austin is a great place to have a race. It’s a city full of excitement and it’s always awesome to be in Texas. A lot of fans come to the race so we always get a really good atmosphere. Away from the track I sometimes like to catch some live music, but I try to save my free time for a nice BBQ dinner.

“Austin is a very technical lap with a combination of low and high-speed corners, which means setting up the car is quite challenging. I enjoy the first sector the most. Turn 1 is a blind uphill corner that you approach at almost 190 mph. The steep approach means it’s quite satisfying on the brakes because the car really stops well with that amount of incline. Because it’s a blind corner you have to be very precise with the turn-in. From there the sequence of corners is really amazing. The speed that we carry through those corners on a qualifying lap is unbelievable, so I really enjoy it.

“It’s a track where it’s quite difficult to follow other cars closely, but there are definitely overtaking opportunities. The track is wide at Turn 1 so there’s an opportunity to brake late and dive down the inside. There is also a long run down the back straight and if you get a good exit out of the hairpin leading onto the straight you can make a pass.”

Sergio Perez #11
“I’m still feeling really happy with our race in Mexico last weekend. Finishing as best of the rest is realistically the most we could have achieved. It showed our strengths as a team and shows the progress we are making with this car – even in the final part of the year. I feel we can fight for points in all of the remaining races.

“Austin has always felt like a second home race for me because of the number of Mexican fans who come along. It feels strange to be going there after Mexico because it’s usually the other way around. I enjoy having these two races next to each other – they are both highlights of the year for me and very enjoyable. I always notice the Mexican flags in the grandstands and it gives you a boost.

“As for the track, it’s interesting for the drivers because of the range of corners. It’s challenging, especially the first sector, which I enjoy the most because of the quick corners. Turn 1 is pretty unique being so steep and it’s not easy to choose your braking point. You can brake so late because of the gradient, but it’s easy to go in too deep and miss the blind apex. You can also experiment with taking some different lines through the corner because it’s so wide.

“There are parts of the lap that remind me of other tracks. The quick part in sector 1 is similar to the first sector in Suzuka, for example. It’s just a good fun track that’s very satisfying to drive. It’s definitely one of the best modern tracks.”

Otmar Szafnauer - Team Principal
“I always enjoy going back to America. It’s where I grew up and spent a big part of my life - and it’s also where my interest and passion for motorsport began. I went to my first Formula 1 race in 1984 in Detroit when I was at college, and the speed and the sound captured my imagination. It’s been satisfying to see Formula 1 become established in Austin through the efforts of the Circuit of the Americas. It’s important that our sport is represented in such an important market, where we’ve seen the appetite for F1 grow stronger and stronger.

“We’re at that point in the season where every point is hugely important. We’re in the thick of this midfield battle and the six points we scored in Mexico have helped us close the gap on fifth place to just nine points. The car was strong in Mexico and we will work hard to ensure similar pace in Austin this weekend.”

PROVIDED BY: Racing Point F1 Team

Scuderia Ferrari: 2019 United States GP Preview.

This weekend’s race will be the 41st race to go by the name of United States Grand Prix to count towards the World Championship. However, there have been a total of 69 Formula 1 races held in the United States, including eleven editions of the Indianapolis 500 and 18 other Grands Prix. Two of those were even held in the car parking of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Scuderia Ferrari has won a total of 13 times here.

Indianapolis and then Sebring. One race in America even featured in 1950, the very first year of the World Championship. It was the Indianapolis 500 and it was part of the calendar up to 1960, as an attempt that never really succeeded, to bring together the different worlds of European and American racing. Scuderia Ferrari had a go at winning this race on the famous oval, in 1952 with Alberto Ascari, but the Italian retired. The first real United States Grand Prix was held in 1959 at Sebring and was won by Bruce McLaren in a Cooper, with Tony Brooks third for Ferrari. The following year, the race moved to Riverside, but the Scuderia did not take part.

The long wait. Scuderia Ferrari had to wait until 1975 to see one of its drivers stand on the top step of the podium in the USA. Niki Lauda, who had already secured that year’s title, won in dominant fashion at Watkins Glen, the track in upstate New York, which hosted 20 editions of this race. The following year it was the Swiss Clay Regazzoni’s turn to celebrate, when he won at Long Beach, which, for eight years, hosted races when the USA boasted two events per season on the F1 calendar. At the end of the Seventies, there were two fantastic double victories, the first in 1978 with Carlos Reutemann winning in Watkins Glen and Long Beach, a feat repeated by Gilles Villeneuve the following year.

Return to Indy. Throughout the Eighties, the United States remained on the calendar with races at Las Vegas, one in Dallas, seven in Detroit and three in Phoenix from 1989 to 1991. After that, the race fell off the calendar and did not return until 2000. This time it was held on a purpose built track using the infield, which linked into Turn 1 on the oval, running down the main straight albeit in the opposite direction to the Indycar race. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari baptised the new track in fine style, winning the opening Grand Prix, which laid the groundwork for winning that year’s title.

The golden years. The new Indianapolis circuit became the scene of a whole string of successes for Ferrari. In 2000, its two cars took the flag in line abreast, evoking memories of that great sports car win in the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours. The unusual aspect on the day was the fact that while trying to cross the line together, Rubens Barrichello, intentionally or otherwise, hit the throttle pedal fractionally too hard to beat Schumacher to the win by just 11 thousandths of a second. After that, the German won four times in a row, from 2003 to 2006, the penultimate year that an F1 race was held at Indy.

In Texas. The United States Grand Prix returned to the calendar in 2012 on the brand new Circuit of the Americas or COTA as it is known, located on the outskirts of Austin in the Lone Star State. Designed by the specialist track architect Hermann Tilke, it is a spectacular venue that climbs and drops in the Texan landscape. Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow won here last year courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen. For the Finn, who won the world title with Ferrari in 2007, it was his tenth win for the team, 9 years and 52 days after the previous one at Spa-Francorchamps in 2009. As for the current drivers, Sebastian Vettel won here in 2013, while Charles Leclerc, on his only appearance last year, was involved in an incident in the early part of the race and later had to retire.

GP contested 56
Debut 1952, Indianapolis 500 (Alberto Ascari ret.)
Wins 13 (23,21%)
Pole positions 13 (23,21%)
Fastest laps 15 (26,87%)
Podiums 36 (64,28%)

Charles Leclerc #16
“I really like being in the United States and the city of Austin is amazing. It is just a great location and the atmosphere around the whole event is special, different to what we usually have.

The circuit itself is also quite unique. Inspired by parts of some of the most iconic race tracks around the world, it gives us drivers a really nice challenge.

With a long straight and a lot of different types of corners, you have to make sure to find the right balance for the car. It is also one of the few tracks to run counter-clockwise, so that mixes things up for us in the cockpit, too.”

Sebastian Vettel #5
“The US GP in Austin is a very different proposition to the high-altitude of Mexico. The Circuit of the Americas is an exciting track, with a wide range of cornering speeds and lots of changes of direction. It’s quite bumpy, particularly in the big braking zones so it’s easy to lock wheels there. The strategy choice is quite open, with both one and two-stop plans looking possible.

It’s a tricky circuit to get the tyres into the right performance window, so Friday running is important to understand the tyres and get prepared for the race.

Last year’s event was difficult because none of us got much useful running due to the poor weather on Friday. The forecast for this year is dry but quite cool. It should be a good circuit for us but, as we saw last year, we can take nothing for granted and the competition is also strong.”

Mattia Binotto Team Principal
“We have started the last six races from pole position but have only gone on to win three of them and we certainly want to do better than that. We are encouraged by the fact that we now have a package that allows us to fight for wins on most tracks. It’s a significant improvement on how we started the year and credit must go to all the people in Maranello and at the track, who have worked so hard to fight back from where we started.

We need to use the last three races of this season to further develop as a group and to operate in the sharpest possible manner in order to be better prepared for next year. It is a very tight field at the front and every detail matters if we want to win more often.

Austin will hopefully give us a good opportunity to do so. It is a very challenging track with many different combinations of corner. Of course everyone will be looking to see what happens with the tyres after the surprising longevity of Pirelli’s hard compound last week in Mexico. We are aware that every track can produce its own particular surprises and our aim is to be ready to react to whatever situation might arise.

Finally, it’s always special to race in the US, a country with a huge history of motor racing. We won here last year and the team’s motivation will be to try and bring home a very good result”.