Thursday, 28 March 2019

2019 Bahrain GP: FIA Drivers' Press Conference.


DRIVERS – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes) Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), Pierre GASLY (Red Bull Racing), Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Lando NORRIS (McLaren)


Lando if we could start with you please: two weeks on, how do you reflect on your grand prix debut in Melbourne?

Lando NORRIS: If I look back now on how the whole weekend went, it was better than I anticipated going into the whole. During it you obviously change how you think you can do and after qualifying eighth, which was awesome for my first quali, I ended up 12th in the race, which was a bit disappointing. But overall I don’t think there were many things I did wrong. Obviously there was a the start and a couple of bits in the middle of the race, but for my first weekend I don’t think I could have asked for much more.

Q: The car seemed more competitive over one lap in qualifying than it was in race conditions. Do you think that will play out this weekend as well? Is it a characteristic of the car?

LN: I don’t think so much. I don’t think out race pace overall, apart from the very end of the race, was too bad. I lost a couple of positions in Turn 1, so I was still P10 and I think my pace in the first stint on the softs was reasonably good, keeping up with the guys ahead. But I just got a bit unfortunate in the middle; I didn’t get past Antonio as quickly as the others did and that put me back in terms of results. I don’t think our pace was a problem. I don’t think it’s a lot worse than our quali pace, it’s just it didn’t go as cleanly as qualifying.

Q: And looking back to 12 months ago in Bahrain : a great victory for you in F2, a great weekend. What’s the goal this time around?

LN: Well, I’d love to do the same, but I don’t think that is a very realistic goal! Obviously it started the season off very well last year. As much as I would love to have a similar result to what I had last year I know that’s an unrealistic aim for this weekend. I think we have got to just take it one step at a time. First time in Formula 1 here, so it’s going to be a bit different.  But hopefully we can have a weekend like we did in Australia, a good qualifying and that will set us up a bit better for the race and I can work on the things I didn’t get done so well.

Q: Good luck for this weekend. Thank you Lando. Daniil, you scored a point on your Formula 1 return in Australia. How satisfying was that?

Daniil KVYAT: I think it was a good race for us. All the weekend we were quite competitive. It was good to know that we are in the mix. The midfield is very tight this year, so we were definitely in the fighting mix. The race itself was very…. There was quite a lot of action, so in the end to score the point at the end of the first race of the season is always good and we just look ahead. Here it’s a different kind of circuit so we’ll see what we can achieve here now.

Q: Tell us a little bit more about the car. How competitive is it and what are its greatest strengths?

DK: It’s hard to say just one strength or weakness. Everyone seems to be very close in the midfield, so you have to have a really good weekend always. It seems like if you lose just a couple of tenths you can lose a few positions, so you always need to be working on putting everything together. Otherwise instead of entering into Q3 you can end up maybe P14, P15. It’s a tight midfield and it’s good to know that it is. It seems that there will be opportunities for everyone.

Q: It’s been a while since we had you in an FIA press conference, because last year you were working with Ferrari. Can you tell us a little bit about what you got up to in 2018 and what you learned?

DK: Obviously I wanted to race but it was very good to be a part of such a team as Ferrari. It was great to see Sebastian and Kimi working from very close. There was a lot of simulator work; they always kept me busy, it was very nice. Learning, I think it was best that I managed to stay close to the F1 world in a way and tried to do my jobs just as good as possible to help the team to achieve the best result possible. It was a very good experience.

Q: Thanks. Pierre, it was a tough weekend for you in Australia, but how much encouragement did you take from Max’s performance?

Pierre GASLY: I would say the overall performance during the weekend was good. A good start, looking at the practice, and also the Q1. I think the overall pace was looking promising and yeah, for sure, what happened in qualifying really put us on the back foot for the race and on a track like this made the final result pretty poor and clearly not what we wanted. It was a pretty tough weekend to accept because I think we deserved a better result on Sunday but things didn’t go as we would have liked. We just need to make sure we have a clean weekend. I think the performance from Max is really positive for everybody in the team, and for Honda. I’m really happy for Honda to get their first podium. It’s looking pretty positive for the coming races.

Q: It seemed like you got caught out by the track evolution in Q1 in Melbourne, so can we expect a different approach to qualifying this weekend from you and the team?

PG: I think we have a better idea of the performance of other teams and on the grid. I think we could see that basically all the teams got a bit closer compared to last year. I think we have a bit more information and we’ll probably be a bit more careful. But let’s see how the performance is from one track to another. It can be quite different. I think Bahrain is back to kind of a normal track and let’s see how the weekend goes.

Q: Well, it’s a normal track on which you went very well last year. What chance of a repeat this weekend or going better than fourth?

PG: We’ll go for the best we can. We saw in Australia we have a competitive car - in quali and also in the race. For sure Mercedes and Ferrari look really strong but I think the most important thing is that if we manage to put everything together we should have get a good shot at having a good result this weekend.

Q: Thank you. Charles, we’re getting used to seeing you in red but it was just your first race for Ferrari two weeks ago. How do you reflect on that and can you just talk about the emotions you felt back in Melbourne?

Charles LECLERC: To be completely honest, the emotions, I didn’t really feel them. Obviously when you are at a race you are focusing on the job you have to do in the car and that’s what I try to do as much as possible. It was not an easy weekend. Obviously after the Barcelona weekend we expected more, but on the other hand there were a lot of positives to take. Anyway, Melbourne is not such a representative track on car performance – even though that doesn’t mean we are as strong as we want to be. But yeah, there is a lot of work to do and I’m pretty confident in the team that we have done the right job in between Melbourne and here to try to improve. And on my side I think I did quite a lot of mistakes in qualifying and during the race and I will try to not repeat these mistakes.

Q: They weren’t totally obvious to us watching, those mistakes. Can you elaborate?

CL: In Q3 I didn’t put the lap in as I wanted to and then in the race I think you have seen the off on the TV. It didn’t have any consequences for the result because obviously I was fifth and there was nobody behind but in other situations it could have been a lot worse, so I need to work on this.

Q: Now you finished a minute back on the man who is on your left up on the podium. Was it a particular issue with the car in Melbourne? How did it feel? Did it feel well balanced or did you think it was just track specific and you expect to be more competitive this weekend?

CL: We expect to be more competitive. I think our package is strong. We have some answers to the lack of performance in Melbourne. I don’t think we have all of them but we definitely have some answers to it. Then we will only see here whether it was only track specific or if there is something else but I am pretty confident in the package we have.

Q: Valtteri, you’re the championship leader for the first time in your career, how does that feel?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, for sure it feels good – but it’s only one race of the season, and now the full focus is to this weekend.

Q: You said after the race in Melbourne that the car felt amazing. How confident are you of a repeat in Bahrain this weekend?

VB: Honestly, it is quite difficult to say. For sure, we were all positively surprised on the performance we had in Melbourne – but, like Charles said, it is a bit of a funny circuit, and I would say here this weekend and China, we’re going to get a much better picture of the real performance at this point of the year. Obviously it was very welcome for us to see that kind of pace and the feeling with the car was a lot better than in winter testing – so obviously the time spent between was very efficient. So, yeah, see how it feels here.

Q: You said after the race that it was the best race of your career. Why do you think that was? Is it because this year’s Mercedes suits you better than either of the previous two?

VB: It must be the beard! No, honestly, it really felt after the race that it was one of the best, or my best race. Obviously the start of the race was key to getting the lead – but after that, I did no mistakes and everything was very much under control. And when you feel you are performing at your best is a beautiful feeling. I now just need to keep the momentum and feel that again soon.

Q: Do you feel more comfortable in this Mercedes than anything else you’ve driven?

VB: For sure, every car is always a bit different and in the end you, as a driver, need to be the one that compensates yourself to the car to get the most out of the package but yeah, I would say in testing, in Melbourne, everything started on the right foot. I never felt anything odd with the car. For sure there are things we can still improve, but yeah, I feel comfortable in the car.


Q: (Erik Bielderman – l’Equipe) Question to Pierre and Charles, how did you manage to deal with frustration after the first race. What I mean by frustration is that, for Charles, you couldn’t go to have a proper fight with your team-mate, and to Pierre, that you were expected with the Red Bull to make points and that was not the case.

CL: Yeah. There was no frustration on my side. Obviously it is the first race but on the team side I don’t think there was anything to gain, whether I was fourth and Seb fifth, or me fifth and Seb fourth. It was exactly the same amount of points for the team, so it’s understandable that they didn’t want to take the risk for us to fight each other and lose even more points. So yeah, it was like this and I understand the decision.


PG: Yeah, as I say, it was quite tough to end up with that result after the promising free practice. We showed some good pace in FP2 and FP3 and yeah, at the end of the weekend, not to score points with the package we had, for sure was difficult. But we know the reasons and we’ll try to do our best to make sure we have clean weekends – because the package is working well.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Question for Valtteri. There’s been a lot of talk about how you’re much more determined this year and come back much stronger, much more focussed than you perhaps were last year. That question was posed to Lewis and he says he sees no difference because he always considered you to be competitive and a strong driver – but would you say there definitely has been a change in mindset from you this year, and that Melbourne was a proof of that – or is it too early to say.

VB: For sure, if you look at the results, it’s obviously very early in the season. It’s one race – but I can for sure say that something in my mindset has changed for the year. The preparation over the winter and just the way of how I feel and think about things has changed. It’s quite difficult to explain in detail but I feel different to years before.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, how would you rank this circuit? Is it in the same group with Russia and Austria in your mind?

VB: It’s normally been quite a strong race for me but obviously every year it’s a new race, and you still need to go off quite well. I think racing here, this year, might be a bit better in terms of overtaking with the new DRS zone so I think still, ultimately, the race pace is going to be important but it’s been a strong race for me personally in the past  and yeah, I can rate it quite well on my list but obviously the aim is to approach every weekend knowing and aiming to be on top of your game and not to have any bad races anyway.

Q: (Kate Walker – New York Times) To Charles and Valtteri: the next Grand Prix weekend in China is going to be our 1000th round of the F1 World Championship. I was wondering if you can tell me, of those 1000 races, whether you were racing or whether you were watching as a fan, what’s your favourite memory?

VB: If I have to choose one now, I feel the happiness at home, looking at the TV, of the driver: it was Mika’s first win in 1997 and the last race of the year and obviously he went and won a couple of titles so I would say that was my favourite.

CL: My side, I will probably be a bit selfish and maybe Monaco is my best memory because it was my first ever Formula One Grand Prix last year so it was something special and to be completely honest, I haven’t watched that many Grands Prix on TV because I was always out racing in karting so yeah, Monaco last year was my best memory.

Q: (Oubay My question is to Charles: how could you describe the atmosphere at Ferrari after the first race? And also, is there a fundamental issue with the car or just a matter of finding the perfect balance?

CL: I think the mentality is the right one and we need to keep this one throughout the whole year. The mentality is very positive. Obviously we are aware there is a lot of work to do but I’m pretty confident, as I said, in the team, that they will do everything to improve the car. I don’t think there’s any fundamental issues in the car concept. I’m pretty confident in that too. It’s just about fine-tuning. Obviously, as I said before, what we showed in Australia I don’t think was the real performance of the car and I think we are all quite confident that we can be better already from here in Bahrain but as I said, the mentality is very good in the team and we need to keep this spirit. We are all working as a team and all working together and this is a good thing to see.

Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Valtteri already mentioned that overtaking is probably fairly easy this weekend. There are three DRS zones. Is that going to affect the strategy you’re going to have for the race and is this the way you want racing to go with more DRS zones?

LN: I think it will affect us slightly. You obviously have more chances of overtaking so you would say a two-stop strategy could be a better chance than trying to do that in Australia, say. I think and hopefully it will cause teams to chose more different strategies, basically, which can hopefully lead to more overtaking, more action, which is always a nice thing for a driver. It’s hard to say. I didn’t drive last year so I don’t know much better or worse this aero package is compared to last year. Some people have said it’s better, some people have said it’s the same or worse – not worse but the same as previous years. I think we have to have overtaking and I think Bahrain, as a track, is definitely better than Australia to overtake anyway, even without DRS zones. But I think nowadays it’s so difficult to overtake in general. DRS is one of the few ways to be able to lead to action and overtaking so I think you’re going to have to have it. Three DRS zones is quite a bit so I’m sure you’re going to see a lot of overtaking and action this weekend. It’s not the most natural and the best way to do it but it’s probably what we’ve got to do, I guess.

CL: Yeah, well you can afford to drop back in the standings for an extra stop and have the chance to overtake after again easier. Already in the past I think it was quite an easy track to overtake on with two DRS zones, so with one more it can only be easier. So yeah, it will change the strategy a little bit. That’s it.

VB: Nothing to add really. I think that’s it. It’s going to be a bit easier.

PG: I think they’ve summed it pretty well. Probably you can go with a more aggressive strategy with that extra DRS zone if it’s easier to overtake but I think the more action it can give us the better it is. After all there are other ways to overtake; without DRS would be nice as well if we are able to follow each other and there is more action thanks to that and that will be the best way but I think immediately that’s the only thing we can change, the DRS zones, so if it brings some more show, I think everybody’s going to be happier.

DK: I think there is always good racing in Bahrain so we just wait and see for the race.

Q: (Masahiro Owari – Formula Owari) Question to Pierre and Daniil: you had a problem at the start at Melbourne, you couldn’t see the starting lights. Could you please explain more details; which signal did you see or did you request anything from the FIA?

PG: Basically it was a pretty messy start because maybe it was my position but I think also Russell behind me had the same problem and Kubica as well but basically the lights were right behind Daniil’s rear wing so I couldn’t see the red lights. On the formation lap, they pulled the car back so I could see them and then as I got in my position for the race start, basically I was looking for them and also the lights on the side are really forward on the grid. Basically I had no idea so I just started to release the clutch when I saw the others moving but actually it wasn’t ideal and I think they are planning to raise the starting lights a bit because I think it’s probably going to be an issue on other tracks as well

DK: I could see everything so maybe he should try to look up

PG: Maybe because you’re taller. I think it’s better (not) to start in this position any more and that will be the easiest thing.

Q: (Abdulrahman Al-Saud – University College Bahrain) Valtteri, what advice would you give to an aspiring F1 driver?

VB: Never give up. It’s obviously not one of the easiest sports to get into but it’s possible. As a kid, obviously there were many people who say when your goal is to get into Formula One and be successful in Formula One, they tell you that it’s impossible but seeing the possibility in things, that can be their strength. Obviously there’s many factors to being a driver but you never know. I guess the main thing as a kid, when you’re doing it, is to enjoy it and then normally the rest will sort itself out one way or another.

Q: Could we just open this question to Lando as well? You’re a rookie. Anything you can add?

LN: I would agree with what Valtteri says, to be honest. It’s obviously a long journey, it’s not quick. You can’t just change from… and I’m sure very few can change from one sport to another but I think a lot of hard work and dedication is what I think all drivers here and all drivers on the grid have put into racing but a similar comment in terms of never giving up, because sometimes it can seem quite far out of reach and then all of a sudden you can be in Formula One, you can have a contract with a team. Similar comments: determination, hard work and not giving up. Many other people have done it, although it’s a very tough sport to get into. There’s only twenty in the world who can do it. I think never giving up is probably one of the best ways to describe it.

Friday, 22 March 2019

BT Sport to broadcast full 2019 World RX championship

The FIA World Rallycross Championship will be broadcast live in the UK and Ireland throughout the 2019 season as part of a multi-year agreement with BT Sport.

BT Sport will broadcast all 10 rounds of the world championship live and the World RX package also includes a comprehensive weekly highlights show.

“To have a broadcast partner of the calibre of BT Sport is a great fillip for the FIA World Rallycross Championship. It underlines the heightened interest in World RX and we look forward to engaging even more UK fans in our story throughout the 2019 season on the BT Sport platform,” said Torben Olsen, the Managing Director of World RX for IMG, the series promoter.

Broadcast coverage of World RX showed a year-on-year increase of 41.4% in 2018 with coverage spanning Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, the Americas and Europe. The estimated cumulative TV audience for dedicated broadcast for the 2018 season was almost 35 million.

In addition, the appeal of World RX among digital audiences continues to grow with over 317 million impressions, bolstered by live streaming of qualifying which drew 400,000 viewers on average over a race weekend. Further innovations around live streaming will be introduced in 2019.

Details of our extensive global broadcast coverage will be revealed shortly.

GC Kompeition unveils a striking new livery.

GC Kompetition has today revealed their striking new livery for the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.  

The new livery includes the blue and yellow colors of their new partner, Bilstein.

The 2019 Renault Megane R.S. RX Supercars will carry a split livery design for the team's drivers, Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund. 

Guerlain Chicherit, GCK team owner has high expectations for the 2019 season. 

“2019 is a really big year for GCK. We debuted the team in the FIA World Rallycross Cham­pionship in 2018 and have been working really hard to further develop the GCK Megane R.S. RX, the first car to have been designed and built from scratch to compete in rallycross," said Chicherit.

The 2019 FIA World Rallycross championship gets underway in 14 days at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Text - Junaid Samodien
Information - GC Kompetition.

GCK Academy reveals 2019 World RX livery

GCK has today unveiled the livery of its Academy team ahead of the 2019 FIA World RX championship

Team owner Guerlain Chicherit created the 'GCK Academy' team with a vision to further young rallycross talent and support junior drivers, giving them the opportunity to compete on a world championship motorsport stage. 

Chicherit witnessed the growth of the FIA World Rallycross Championship and the increasing difficulties junior drivers face to develop in World Championship cars. Having witnessed these difficulties the Frenchmen decided to start the GCK Academy.

Begian Guillaume De Ridder and Frenchman Cyril Raymond will compete under the GCK Academy banner in 2019.

Guillaume de Ridder's GCK Academy Clio Supercar livery.
Who is Guillaume De Ridder?

After promising start in karting and rallying, Guillaume started rallycross in 2017 racing the RX2 World Championship and SRX Cup, part of the Belgian Rallycross Championship.

Guillaume proved to be a fast learner and was soon noticed because of his remarkable speed. He finished third in RX2, with 3 podiums, and second in the SRX Cup. 

He won the title of Rookie of the year in RX2 as well as for the RACB (Belgian motorsport federation, for all racing categories). 2018 saw Guillaume successfully continuing rallycross, becoming RallyX Nordic champion in the Supercar Lites category and World Champion runner up in RX2, driving for Olsbergs-MSE.

Cyril Raymond's GCK Academy Clio R.S. RX Supercar livery
Who is Cyril Raymond?

Raymond discovered motorsport thanks to his father, who was a rally driver in France. In 2004, Cyril started go karting in the south of France at the age of 10. 

In 2013, Raymond discovered Rallycross through his wife, whose father was a driver in the French Rallycross Championship and her uncle had a Rallycross team. He started racing the Twingo Cup and won the French Junior Rallycross Championship in his first year. 

In 2014, Cyril had an official program with the French federation ofRallycross (AFOR) in the Super  1600. He won the Championship and became double French Champion. At the end of  2014, Cyril tested the RXLites car in Turkey with OlsbergsMSE.In 2015, Cyril decided to do one race of the French Rallycross Championship in a supercar and won it! 

In 2017, he won the RX2 Championship (7 races, 6 wins) and the Red Bull GRC Lites in America with OlsbergsMSE. 2018 saw him missing the first race of the FIA European Championship but he finished the Championship 3rd overall and won his home race, LoheacRX in France. 

Source: GC Kompetition
Story - Junaid Samodien
Source - GC Kompeition

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Kristoffersson hints at a potential World RX return.

PHOTO CREDIT: FIA World Rallycross Media. 
Two-time Champion Johan Kristoffersson hints at a potential return to racing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2019. 

The Swede published a video on social media over the weekend of him driving a "Bauhaus" branded Volkswagen Polo Supercar.

Video Published by Johan Kristoffersson on Instagram (@kristofferssonjohan)
Video Source:

Kristoffersson was left without a seat for the 2019 season when PSRX Volkswagen Sweden withdrew from the championship citing "the loss of competitors in the FIA World Rallycross Championship" following EKS Audi Sport, Peugeot Sport and Olsberg MSE's withdrawal from the championship. 

With an uncertain future in Rallycross, the Swede announced that he will be competing in the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup [10 events], and will compete on a part-time basis in rallying.

Despite the excitement surrounding the Swede's social media video, it still remains unclear if he will be competing in any World RX rounds in 2019.

Kristoffersson's social media video sparked the conversation of his likely return to World Rallycross. But, an interesting conversation developed between Johan and Gronholm RX.

Gronholm RX posted the comment: "Comeback?" to which the Swede replied: "haven’t missed a race yet, can’t count as a comeback."

Is a comeback on the cards? Only time will tell!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

2019 Australian GP: Post-Race Press Conference.

1 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)


(Conducted by Martin Brundle)

Q: Valtteri, the race of your life?

Valtteri BOTTAS: I think so! I don’t know what just happened.

Q: What a perfect start, to get away.

VB: I don’t know what to say. It was definitely my best race ever. I don’t know what happened. I felt so good and everything was under control. The car was so good today. So truly enjoyable. I need to enjoy today.

Q: You made it a one-horse race. Twenty-six world championship points with the fastest lap. You were determined to have that fastest lap.

VB: Yeah, definitely. It’s a new rule for this year. As I had really strong pace I wanted to go for that in the end and it’s always a bit risky with worn tyres but it was worth it. I’m just so happy and I can’t wait for the next race.

Q: A one-two for the team, congratulations Lewis, second place, but maybe a bit of a frustrating day for you?

Lewis HAMILTON: No It’s been a good weekend for the team, so I have to be happy for everyone and a really fantastic job from everyone. Valtteri drove an incredible race today, so he truly deserved it. We’ve just got some work to do. Still, it’s a great, great start to the year, more than we could have hoped as a team.

Q: Max launched an attack on you at the end. Did you have it covered?

LH: Yeah, no problem at all.

Q: Any idea where the pace may have gone to?

LH: I do have some ideas, but I’ll wait until I sit with my engineers to go over it. Naturally, position at the start was a little bit frustrating, especially when you have a good weekend up to that point but that’s how the game goes and I’ll just train and work hard to try and improve the next time.

Podium place for Max Verstappen. You had an interesting afternoon.

Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, I had to overtake Seb to get onto the podium, which is not easy around here, so I was happy to pull that move off, and also challenging Lewis for second, so, yeah, pretty pleased with that.

You had the Ferraris covered. You had a little trip across the grass, probably took you back from behind Lewis. But you were still coming at him.

MV: Yeah, it was unfortunate but I don’t think it would have changed the end result.

So, reasonably happy with today?

MV: Of course. To start the season on the podium, challenging the Mercedes car ahead, I think that’s a very positive start for us. Also a big well done to the team, after the difficult Friday we had. And also big thanks to Honda, also their first podium in the V6 era, so very happy for them.


Q: Well Valtteri you said on the podium that you had porridge for breakfast but was there any indication in practice that you were going to be able to unlock that sort of performance from the car? 

VB: Well, first of all, as a team, in practice we saw that we were strong, both in short runs and long runs, but obviously it’s impossible to draw a proper conclusion but we saw the raw pace yesterday in qualifying, as a team, with a good margin to Ferrari, and today race pace was strong – much stronger than we expected coming into this weekend. That’s obviously good news. It shows that we have definitely done all the right things between the testing in terms of direction with the car. Also, for myself, it was definitely the best race I’ve had in my life. Obviously, the key thing for me was the race start, to get to the lead and then being at the front I could show strong pace and I could pull a gap. I think in the first stop I could also…. I stopped a bit later so I was a good tyre in the end. Just the car was feeling so good today, it was truly enjoyable.

Q: Well, many congratulations. Lewis, it all seemed to slip away from you at the start. Tell us about that moment?

LH: I don’t really remember much of it, honestly, it was quite a long time ago really. I don’t know, maybe I got wheelspin. It doesn’t really matter, Valtteri got a better start. Once we got to the first corner, we held position, we had the front row still. And Valtteri did an exceptional job throughout the race, so congratulations to him and after that it was just about bringing the car home.

Q: You talked on the radio about maybe some tyres issues. Did that play out?

LH: No, not really. I wasn’t entirely happy with the balance I had but it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a problem for me to finish second.

Q: Thanks. Coming to you Max: If we had said to you before this race that you would finish 35 seconds ahead of the lead Ferrari, what would you have said?

MV: I would tell you ‘we will find out on Sunday’. Winter testing doesn’t really show the true picture, as you can see this weekend. We had a good car. In the start, stayed out of trouble. It was just very hard to stay close to Seb, as my tyres were overheating very quickly. I just did my own pace, a manageable pace, and we could extend our stint a little bit and then when we did the pit stop afterwards we had a bit fresher tyres than Lewis and Seb ahead. I managed to get by Seb, which is not easy around this track, because it’s just so hard to follow. But very happy to get to third. Trying to challenge for second was a very positive feeling, especially after my Friday. At the end we couldn’t pull it off, but in general I’m juts very happy to be on the podium. I think we managed to turn it around in a very positive way after Friday and for Honda to have their first podium in the V6 era is a great start, so big congrats to them.


Q: (Yianni Mavromoustakos – Question for Max. How did you find the Honda engine after your first race with it – and do you think you’ll be capable enough to compete for top spot?

MV: Well, I think in terms of speed we had throughout the race, it was again a very good step forward to last year. If I just compare top speeds against the other two top teams, so I’m very pleased for that. Also, in general, the engine has been performing really well, without any issues. So, that is also very important. I guess time will tell if we can fight for top spot.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Max, obviously the performance of the Red Bull Honda package, evidenced by the fact you finished third – but how encouraging was it that you were not only able to finish third on the road but were able to push Lewis and show performance all the way to the end. It didn’t look like you were having to manage the package at all towards the end.

MV: No, we didn’t. Well… you always have to manage the tyres because as soon as you get close to the car ahead they overheat, the tyres. In general, just very pleased, because I could at least have a go at it, in terms of top speed. Good progress, and there are a lot of positive things coming as well, and so far we have been working really well together. Very pleased with that. I think Valtteri was very far ahead still. It was a good result today, but we have to work hard to, of course, improve.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Congratulations Valtteri. For the first time in six years, a Finnish driver is leading the championship. How does it feel to be first time there as a leader?

VB: Congrats to you as well! Thank you. Obviously, I don’t think I was ever leading a championship. Obviously I know it’s only the first race of the year. I’m not so good with the numbers of the days and statistics but all I can say is that I’m really pleased with the way the season has started. First of all for us as a team, we have such a strong package going forwards and then, for myself, after quite a tricky last year, to have started the season like this. It’s very good and I look forward to the next race.

Q: (Roger Byron – Beyond the Racing Line) For everyone, how was it with the new aero package, following cars this weekend? In a race you find out more…

MV: Ask Valtteri how it was following!

LH: No different.

No different to previous seasons?

LH: No.

You were pretty close to Lewis at the end there Max…

MV: Yeah, I had no chance to get by. It is still very hard. The only positive thing what we improved is the DRS effect. So, as soon as it opens, it’s a lot more powerful than last year but following is still a lot of turbulence.

Anything to add Valtteri, when you were coming through traffic…

VB: It was quite… I didn’t get close enough to traffic ahead to really see a difference.

Q: (David Coath) Valtteri, you drove the perfect race and your pitcrew was perfect as well. How does that make you feel when you know how much everyone in the team is giving?

VB: It means a lot. It is teamwork and nothing comes for free. Or by one person’s efforts. We’ve all worked for this result we’ve got now as a team together, over the past years and over the winter, and over the weekend. I’m very proud of every single person here in the team at this race weekend but also at the factory. There’s many hidden heroes in Brackley and in Brixworth. Just want to say a massive thanks to them and I really know how much they work and how much it means.

Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawkes Bay Today) Valtteri, was there any moment during the race that you had a flashback to Russia last year and you thought maybe someone might come on the radio and say ‘slow down’?

VB: No, I didn’t think of that, actually, and there would be no reason to think about that. We are all starting a new season with zero points, we are here to fight, both me and Lewis will want to fight this season, for sure, against each other and against everyone and we are still one team so no point in thinking about those kind of things.

Q: (inaudible – Finnish News Agency) Valtteri, you said yesterday that you approached the weekend differently, started from zero. Can you explain how your preparation was different from last year, for instance?

VB: Yeah, for sure every year you learn as a person, you learn about yourself, what works for you, what doesn’t work for you in terms of preparation and what preparation includes: how you rest, how you spend your free time, how you do the training, how much training, what kind, all those kind of things, travel plans, all sorts. So just trying to optimise everything for this year, try to maximise every single thing that is possible. I don’t know, it’s quite difficult to explain what’s been going on here last winter, inside of my head and definitely something changed in terms of the way I feel about things in life in general and in racing, but that’s all in my thoughts. I felt good in the car today and yesterday. That’s all that matters.

Q: (inaudible – The Age Newspaper) Max, I want to ask about your mindset and the first race without Daniel. Does it change not having to look sidewards and being able to focus on yourself and not focus as much on internals and have a weekend purely about your performance? Did it feel different today without Daniel?

MV: Well, I always focused on myself so it’s not like something changes, from my side. No.

Q: (Giusto Ferronato – Gazzetta dello Sport) Lewis, can you tell us something about (how much) wheelspin you had, wheelspin at the start?

LH: Yeah, probably too engaged with the clutch, probably, but I don’t really know because I won’t know ‘til I go back, but ultimately I didn’t do a good enough job.

Q: (Phil Branagan – The New Daily) Lewis, the build-up to this race has been very much about your team versus Ferrari, and many people in the room have written about that. Did we have it wrong? And you just fought off a Red Bull; is this now a three way fight for the championship between those three teams?

LH: I don’t know if you wrote it wrong. It was supposed to be a three-way fight… I thought it was going to be a three-way fight so maybe you did write it wrong.

Q: (Jeremy Statis – L’Equipe) You really seemed to care about the fastest lap point at the end of the race. Would you say it will be a big deal during the season and will you be ready to take a lot of risks to get it?

VB: Yeah, obviously it’s a point and if you get three of those or more it’s going to make a big difference at the end of the year. You never know. One point can make a difference in the end. For sure we’re willing to risk but still knowing that if you’re about to get 20 or 18 points or 15, whatever, they are still more important than getting one extra so you need to calculate the risk but today was worth it, within a stop for an extra set of tyres for it, but with the worn tyres I went for a quick lap and it was worth it.

I just want to say, again, thank-you Charlie and I want to say that this win is for Charlie and all his work for Formula One. He’s done a massive amount and it means a lot to all of us drivers.

LH: It’s 21 points so we’re going to fight for them.

MV: There are 21 possible points you can get so it can help but like Valtteri said, at the end of the day it’s most important to score 25 or 18, 15, 10. Try to go for one more and then it goes wrong, it can happen sometimes but anyway, I think in some situations like today, I was pushing anyway to try and get Lewis so it happened that I was doing, at that time, the fastest lap. It’s nice if it happens.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

2019 Australian GP: FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference.

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Lewis, every winter you go away, every winter you come back, driver-team combination, you come out, you get pole position here and you deliver a performance that’s just incredible.

Lewis HAMILTON: Oh man, I’m shaking, it was so close out there. We’ve got this incredible crowd here today; thank you everyone for coming out and creating this atmosphere. What a beautiful day. Coming from testing, from winter, we had no idea where we would be. We were hoping of course to be where we are, we’ve been working towards that; the guys back at the factory have been working so hard. And on the weekend also they have just been working to perfection. Valtteri did an exceptional job out there; it was very close. It’s great to see the top 16 or 17 are within a second; I think that’s an improvement in the regulations, so it should be an exciting season.

Q: Sixth consecutive pole position here in Melbourne. Eight times you’ve been on pole, matching Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna for pole positions at a track, what does that record mean?

LH: I didn’t even know about that. That’s news to me. All I can say is that my family are here and I wouldn’t be doing what I do without my dad, who taught me everything, and he’s here with me. So big thank you to him but I couldn’t have done it without this great team.

Q: Well done, all the best for tomorrow. Valtteri, P2 on the grid, front row start. I think more importantly a very strong day for the team. You almost did it but just missing out on that last run with a little bit of performance.

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, we really made some good progress. I had a difficult practice three and we could turn things around for the qualifying. All the session was feeling good. The quali three, lap one, was really nice, I enjoyed that. Unfortunately not quite enough for pole, but Lewis had a good lap in the end and I struggled a bit in the first sector in the last run. Anyways, it was fun and I look forward to tomorrow. 

Q: You’ve been away, you said you were going to have a different winter reset. You’ve come back fighting and you’ve made him work for it, haven’t you?

VB: Yeah. Of course I’d prefer to be on pole, but the race is tomorrow and I’m starting on the front row. But I have to say that, as a team, after a quite tricky winter testing they have done an amazing job to turn the car around and be in this good shape.

Q: All the best for tomorrow. Sebastian, second row of the grid, third [place]. I think everyone thought after what we saw at Barcelona that Ferrari were going to start strong. Where do you feel [the team is] after the last couple of days?

Sebastian VETTEL: I don’t know. Congrats to Lewis and Valtteri, they had, by the looks of it, a very today qualifying. For us it was OK. I had an off in Q2, which wasn’t planned but I tried. I don’t know. The car feels alright, it’s not that there is anything wrong (inaudible) but today I thought it was OK. I think compared to those guys we were just not quick enough. The race is tomorrow, though. I think we have a good car nonetheless. This track is very specific so not worried too much, but for sure it’s not great. I would have loved for it to be the other way round.

Q: To play the long game is a big thing this year. You’ve won this race more than a few times. Can you win this grand prix tomorrow?

SV: Of course. I think we can. You never know what’s happening. Last year we got a bit lucky but the race is over when there’s the chequered flag. I think we have a good car, we have a good race car and we are in good form. Obviously Mercedes are the clear favourites after the result today and the pace they have shown so far. But we are here to race. Otherwise it would be quite dull. I think all the people would agree. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I think our starts are pretty handy, so we’ll go from there.


Q: Lewis that was a huge second lap in Q3. How satisfying is that?

LH: The second lap was definitely a lot better than the first, which is not always the case. It’s always quite difficult on the second lap to pull that amount of time out. But on the first lap I made a mistake, which is unusual for me. It was OK, I just brushed it off and kept moving. We just kept working away, chipping away at our pace and our balance throughout the weekend. As I said, coming from Barcelona, we made some really big steps forward in the last couple of days with set-up and we brought that here and it seems to have worked. There was also a little bit of work done after that two weeks, were we analysed everything and made some small corrections. I really was not expecting to see the performance difference that we have here. It had been so close throughout the whole weekend between us all. It’s amazing to see how close the top 16 are, I think there was a second between us all at one point. That’s a real positive for rule regulations. It’s a bit difficult when you have a session like that to grasp exactly what just happened but I’m very proud to be up here and very grateful for everyone who has worked so hard throughout the winter and this couldn’t be a better way to start the year. But Valtteri was doing some incredible laps out there, so I really had to pull something special out at the end to stay ahead of him.

Q: High praise from your team-mate Valtteri. Just talk us through the session and that second lap in Q3 in particularly.

VB: First of all, I think, a bit like Lewis I’m a little bit blown away about the performance we had today. Obviously yesterday was looking good but it’s always practice. It was the first session this year that really counts, in terms of lap times, and I don’t think anyone in the team could have imagined we’d be in this position after the testing we had but everyone’s been working so hard and that made this possible. But it’s only one session: tomorrow is the main day. From my side, I really enjoyed the qualifying. I had a difficult FP3. Wasn’t really happy with the car. We made some changes and really felt more confident in the qualifying and got some nice, clean laps. The first lap in Q3 was pretty good. I was quite happy with that. I knew that there was still something to improve in the second run but for some reason just lost some time in the first couple of corners. I think Turn One and Turns Three and Four. I did a little bit slower out-lap due to traffic, so maybe the tyres weren’t quite ready – but Lewis did a great lap in the end, so well done for that but, I mean, we’re just all happy in the team to be in this position.

Q: Sebastian, we saw a little off for you in Q2. How did that affect the performance of the car going into Q3?

SV: It didn't. During winter testing I was joking with Valtteri that I was quite jealous he did some rallying in the winter. Maybe it was in the back of my mind and I wanted to try some myself – but not the right time. I tried, obviously, to find the limits in Q2, and went a little bit over the limit. Fortunately the car was fine. Q3, run one, or generally Q3 was fine. Overall, that fortunately did not impact our qualifying.

Q: And how surprised are you by the gap to the Mercedes drivers?

SV: Certainly surprised. I think everybody is – probably even themselves. I think yesterday we didn’t have a good day. Today felt better but in terms of gap and pace, it was very similar. For sure there’s some homework for us to do to understand. I still think we have a great car and we should be better than this – so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We’ll see over… I don’t know how many laps… 56? 58? 58 laps we have some time to get a proper read of where we are – but certainly Mercedes are the clear favourite if you have such a big gap and comfort throughout qualifying. All the sessions. We’ve got to live with it today but tomorrow is a new day. We’ve done it before, around here especially, so, we’ll see.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Sebastian, you talked about you still think you’ve got a great car. Did you feel that here, you’re missing something that you felt you had at Barcelona, or is it just that Mercedes have made a surprising leap up the order, basically?

SV: Well, it’s difficult to compare. We have something like 10, 15 degrees more ambient, hotter track, different circuit, so overall different conditions – but the car felt really good at testing and probably around here, so far this weekend it didn’t feel as good – yet. As I said, yesterday was a difficult day for us. It was tricky. Today felt a bit better – but there’s not an awful lot of time to try different things. Obviously you have to get on with it and the sessions come fast: especially in qualifying, you can’t really change much. If anything, you get a better understanding of maybe where you’re losing out or where it feels uncomfortable. So for us, I think, there is still a bit of margin but certainly the gap is there today, and it was a surprise. We didn’t expect it coming here but now it is that way. And, as I said, we focus on tomorrow and don’t worry about the gap now.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, first time you are in the front row here. How big a difference does it make in a circuit like this – especially compared to last year when you were nowhere after qualifying.

VB: I was in the wall after qualifying! I was somewhere! Historically, it’s not been the best track for me, honestly. I’ve never felt like I’ve had a great qualifying or race here for some reason. But, I mean, I think I managed to build it up well this weekend. Really started from zero this weekend, trying to learn session by session, and was pretty pleased with the car and driving and the main thing, in the qualifying, especially the first lap in Quali 3, I was really enjoying the driving and that’s when the lap-times were good. So, yeah, obviously there were still things I could have done better, as Lewis showed in the last lap, but it was close enough – so much better, for example, than the year before.

Q: (Christian Menath – Question for Seb. Would you say it’s fair to say you have a bit more problem to extract maximum performance out of the soft tyre – because yesterday the long run looked a bit better compared to the others and today in Q1, when you had the medium tyre on, you were not that far away?

SV: Well, it’s difficult to read Q1. I think people are playing around with how much, first of all, how much they push, how much they push the engine especially. I think everybody was surprised how much the track picked up as well in Q1. So, Q1 is not a great session to read into. I wouldn’t say we have a problem extracting the grip from the tyres. Obviously there is a lack somewhere, because we are too slow – but didn’t feel like it. I was very happy with the laps that I had in Q1 on the medium compound – but hard to have a reference because nobody else was really on that tyre at that time, so yeah, for tomorrow, we’ll see. Tyres so far this weekend were no headache and should be quite straightforward tomorrow. I expect a solid race from the tyres.

Q: (Laurence Edmonson – ESPN) Seb, could you just explain exactly what it is that you’re lacking because you mentioned yesterday that you didn’t have the confidence in the car? Could you just go into some detail on what is missing, and is it the same on heavy fuel?

SV: I thought the sectors might still be there. I think a little bit of everything. I don’t think the straightline is a problem so I think we are quite competitive down the straights but I think we’re just losing in the corners. There are 16 corners around here and I think it’s a fairly even spread so probably by the looks of it… and so far it was more in the medium and lower speed stuff rather than the high speed stuff which, I would say,  also speaks for a strong car in general. I haven’t got the balance yet which maybe I would like to have, especially in lower speed, and not the confidence and trust which again, around here, can make a big difference because it’s a bumpy track and I hope they don’t resurface it because it’s part of the character of this track. It’s fairly evenly spread around the track but I would say more towards the lower speed corners and it’s easier, I would say, to lose time there. But given the gap is so big, we must lose time in more than one place, for sure.

Tomorrow? I don’t know, I think in the race it could be closer but also the long runs that both of them had yesterday looked very strong and ours looked OK but not as special as theirs so we will see. I think today the car was better and I expect it to be better also tomorrow so we should be a bit closer.

Q: (Daniel Paez – Caracol National Agency) Lewis, do you agree with Sebastian, do you think the track should not be resurfaced? Do you like it that it’s a little bit bumpy in Melbourne, that’s it’s part of the character? How do you feel about that?

LH: Yeah, I like the track the way it is. I think it’s a great circuit because there are not particularly massive run-off areas. If you put a wheel wrong, it generally does bite you which is great and how it should be. The bumps are part of the character of what Melbourne is so if you were to iron those out it would lose a lot of… you know, it does make it trickier for us but that’s a part of it, you need that. I don’t like these circuits which are super flat and super smooth, don’t cause us troubles. For us this weekend we have to raise the car because it’s too much into the ground under braking, that’s what you should have to do and you have to live with a certain amount of vibration and your fillings coming out but that’s motor racing, hard core motor racing.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Lewis, it seemed that before your last run on your out lap you almost came to standstill twice in the last sector. Valtteri said before that he thought he had a too slow out lap but in the end it didn’t seem to affect you. What happened there?

LH: I think I came out of my garage behind at least two cars so I was really conscious of trying to keep a gap to them. I think one of them was Grosjean or something like that, maybe Magnussen ahead or something like that, and I was really trying to make sure that I got the right gap to them and they were backing up also. They came round the last corner and I just wanted to slow up and make sure I maximised it because I think on a couple of laps I didn’t have the perfect lap and particularly in Q1 and Q2 I had some messy laps with traffic so I just really wanted to make sure it was perfect and ultimately it was a good gap in the end, no issues. The tyres have been really good this weekend so no complaints. I know I’ve complained a lot about the tyres but they’ve been really good so it will be interesting to see how they perform tomorrow.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, Valtteri mentioned that he was a little bit blown away by the performance today. I know you’d said in the build-up you didn’t consider yourself favourite. Do you share that assessment? Has this come a bit out of the blue for you, the size of your advantage today

LH: Absolutely. There was absolutely no… since practice from the day one to the last day when we left, when we went back to the factory, we knew we had work to do, I felt like we were… I felt good that we had a decent package to work with but we were wary that we might be slightly behind, that’s what we honestly thought, when they showed us the summary of how testing went. We were behind Ferraris from our analysis, we truly believed we were behind. And from then until now, we haven’t changed the car, we’ve understood the car more, we know what we have to do to move the car forwards but we haven’t brought any upgrades or anything like that but as I said, the last couple of days felt really good at the track. Yesterday, Ferrari were just with us I think. It looked like they were a little bit heavy on fuel initially and then they dropped their fuel and then we were quite on par in performance and we thought we were closer than we thought we would be after testing. And then all of a sudden they lost a bit of performance in running, I think this afternoon or this morning, which we were not expecting and so it is a real shock. When we look at the GPS, it’s a lot of the mid-speed corners. When you look at his lap from Barcelona the car looked planted so I was just saying to him were you on fumes or something? It is a difficult circuit and it’s quite gusty here as well so it could be a number of things but I’m really really grateful for where our car is and where it enabled us to be today. I know that Ferrari are going to be pushing hard and progressing over the coming days and tomorrow I’m sure they will be putting up a good fight as they are always strong in the races.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Bakkerud and Bennett to take on RallyX on Ice Festival.

Andreas Bakkerud
Norwegian Rallycross ace Andreas Bakkerud and fellow World RX driver Oliver Bennett are set to compete in the final round of the RallyX on Ice festival on Sweden’s frozen Lake Åre on 18-23 March.

The 2019 RallyX on Ice festival will comprise of three events held over six days. Each round will feature a different track layout – including a high-speed oval – with fans encouraged to enjoy the high-quality racing amongst the excellent local facilities on offer.

Bakkerud will make the return to the ice next Saturday (23 March) with Swedish Team Färén. The Norwegian has form on frozen surfaces, having previously participated in RallyX on Ice in 2015 and more recently teamed up with circuit racing ace Nicolas Prost in France’s Andros Trophy.

“First and foremost, I love racing!” said Bakkerud. “There hasn’t been much driving for me since the final round of the 2018 World Championship in Cape Town last November, so I see this as a chance to get some good practice in ahead of the upcoming season!"

“Racing on ice isn’t that different to normal rallycross – you have to perfect your reaction times, sliding and rotations, all of which are crucial in a long RX season," the Norwegian said. 

"Finally, it will be fun to race against the new generation of young talents, so I’m sure I will have a hard time if I want to end up on top – but I will do my very best and of course, I will enjoy it.”
Xite Racing's Oliver Bennett
PHOTO CREDIT: RallyX on Ice.

Britians Oliver Bennett will drive for Team Färén in Monday’s curtain-raiser, with Wednesday’s driver still to be announced. Bennett competed in the Östersund and Höljes rounds of RallyX on Ice in the RX Academy class last year, reaching the final on both occasions, and the Brit is now eager to test his mettle in the headlining Supercar Lites category.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Oliver Bennett. “I’ve never driven the Supercar Lites car before, so that will be a good experience and it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like on the ice with four-wheel-drive."

“It looks pretty comparable to a Supercar in those conditions from what I’ve seen, and it will be great to get some seat time before World RX kicks off next month," he adds. "The atmosphere in Åre looks set to be brilliant, so hopefully we can go out there and have some fun – and I’ll try not to break anything before Andreas gets in the car…”

TEXT - Junaid Samodien
Source - RallyX on Ice