Saturday, 3 August 2019

FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference: 2019 Hungarian GP.

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


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Question inaudible

Max Verstappen: It’s incredible! This one was still missing. The car felt good all weekend and then of course you know it’s always going to be hard in qualifying but we managed to do it and of course a big thank you to the team. The car was flying out there in qualifying. It was incredible.

Q: If you’d saw how nervous the garage was when you went out for that last run, but I guess when you hear on the radio that you’ve actually nailed that, it’s just growing isn’t it, the confidence with there, and tomorrow you’re in a great position with that.

MV: Yeah, absolutely. Very happy about today. Still a race to do and that’s at the end of the day the most important, but for me today was an important one, a very nice one and also a great one for the team.

Q: The Dutch travel in form and you can hear when you drew up… ? 

MV: They’re loving it!

Q: …You had the engine noise but you could hear them. You’ve lifted this place. Max, congratulations. Valtteri, you nearly got the job done. I guess after last weekend, Max pulling out a great lap, but you came close and you’re in a good position.

Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, I’ve been kind of chasing a little bit this weekend after missing pretty much all practice one, only limited laps in practice two, and I only really started to get into the rhythm this morning. It was getting better and better in qualifying and I’m pretty pleased with the lap in the end. Very close with Max, they’ve been quick all weekend, but, you know, as always it’s tomorrow that counts.

Q: Can you still win this race from the position you’re in?

VB: Of course. We are here to fight for the win. There’s lots of support for that, so that’s going to make a difference.

Q: All the best. Lewis, third position. I guess you would say it’s been a difficult day after your form in qualifying normally. But I guess Max pulling out a great lap, Valtteri there as well, are you happy with where you ended up?

Lewis HAMILTON: Naturally we’re always targeting first. Max did a great job and so did Valtteri. It kind of got away from me a little bit once we got into qualifying but still we’re in a good position to fight for the win, so we’ll just be pushing hard tomorrow.

Q: These guys are starting to ramp up the pressure now, Ferrari were very close as well, the Red Bull. Are you relishing this fight that they’re taking to you?

LH: I’m always down for a fight so…

Q: I guess you’ll have to pass some cars tomorrow to try and get this win?

LH: Yeah, I think it’s obviously a long, long way down to Turn 1, so it will be interesting. It’s not the easiest place to overtake, but strategy will come into it tomorrow, so I hope we can give them a run for their money.


Q: Max, what an exciting moment for you. You’ve had a few minutes now to digest it, how does it feel?

MV: Yeah, it feels good. I think the whole weekend already the car was very competitive. Of course there’s always a bit of a question mark how it’s going to work out in qualifying when we know that they can turn up a bit more power. But we seemed to hang in there and the car actually got better and better throughout qualifying. I was very happy with it, very pleased. It was really enjoyable to drive. I didn’t really have any comments throughout qualifying, I just said ‘keep it going, keep the car going and give me new tyres’ and that’s exactly what we did. Of course to get your first pole is very nice but it’s of course what counts on Sundays always.

Q: Well, you’ve been brilliant on Sundays, you’ve had seven wins. What’s the overriding emotion now that you’ve finally go this first pole?

MV: People will stop asking me that question. Yeah, I guess so. For me it never really mattered. I knew it was a matter of time. You need a bit of luck sometimes as well. Of course, I made mistakes myself to miss a pole position shot. And today we got it, so very happy with that.

Q: Many congratulations, well done. Valtteri, it’s been a difficult build up to qualifying for you, with very little running in practice yesterday. How was the car this afternoon?

VB: Yeah, it’s been not the easiest of weekends so far. I missed the whole of practice one, I had no track time, and I obviously very limited running in practice two. So this morning it was really important in practice three to find the rhythm and it was really getting better and better. I was getting the confidence in the car. Luckily there were no big set-up issues and I could just fine-tune it for qualifying. And again in qualifying, just learning each lap more and more and it started to feel very nice in Q3. It’s a shame to miss the pole by such a small margin, always, but congrats to Max and to Red Bull, they’ve been strong all weekend. But on how the weekend started, in that sense, I’m quite happy with that, but obviously a lot happier sitting in the middle.

Q: Thank you and well done. Lewis, you came into the qualifying session seeking your seventh pole position here in Hungary. You’re lining up third. Just talk us through it?

LH: Firstly, congratulations to Max. It’s an amazing feeling to get your first pole position, so really happy for him. For me a difficult qualifying session. Practice was going quite well. We knew the Red Bulls were quick – they’re always quick here. I think when I got into qualifying the car wasn’t the same as it was in P3 and it just was a bit of a struggle from the beginning and it kind of just plateaued there. It didn’t really get any better. But nonetheless we’re still there in the fight and hopefully for the race we’ll have better race pace than I did in quali.


Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speedsport) Max, you have a powerful engine but I think at the start of the season the chassis wasn’t really optimum. How much has the chassis improved from Spain testing to here?

MV: I never said it was only the chassis, I think it’s a bit of both where we were lacking in the beginning. We made good gains with the engine, but we’re not where we want to be and I think everybody knows that. But we are pushing hard and we are improving and we are getting close to Mercedes and Ferrari, especially Ferrari, they seem very quick on the straights. With the chassis I think since Austria where we introduced a few crucial updates I think the car has been a lot better. From there onwards we kept bringing new parts. Maybe not as major as that one but it always gave me more of a balanced feeling in the car. And that’s exactly what we were looking for in the car and I guess it shows today on a track where you need a lot of downforce that the car was working really well.

Q: (Vladimir Rogovets – Sb Belarus) My question to Mr Hamilton. Lewis, seven years ago you were here the winner but 2012 we had six champions in the peloton and you were only a one-time champion. Today we have only three champions in the peloton and you are a five-time champion. Do you think tomorrow, will it be easier for you to win than seven years ago – or not?

MV: I didn’t know we had a peloton…

LH: Did I win 2012? I don't really remember that far back. Competition-wise, I don’t think it makes any difference, I don’t think, between those years. We’ve got some fierce competition within the top three teams. Is it easier now to win than before? I wouldn’t say so. It’s different circumstances now, naturally, and with more experience hopefully you are slightly prepared that I was back in… I would hope I’m better prepared than I was in 2012 but you’re still fighting an uphill battle all the time. You’re always finding new circumstances each weekend. This weekend, it started out well and it’s not gone great today but that doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t go great.

…but you have more experience?

LH: So, hopefully we’ll see that play its role.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Max, by getting the breakthrough pole position for yourself and Red Bull with Honda, what message do you think that sends? Obviously you’ve made it clear that qualifying is the area you think you need to improve. And to the two Mercedes drivers, obviously you won’t take your eye off the challenge from Ferrari but do you think that Max is now your nearest, most consistent challenger?

MV: We know that, if you can start more upfront in the race, it all makes it a bit easier to control a race – but we kept working really hard to improve the engine, to get a bit more out of it in qualifying, and I think that showed again today – that we were able to push it a bit more but of course within the limits of not blowing up. We keep improving. There are positive things also coming in the upcoming races. Of course, very happy to get my first pole position but also with the team, how quickly we turn things around from the beginning of the year where we were clearly lacking and now we are definitely closing up. And this weekend we were there, so that was good.

Mercedes drivers: Valtteri, how do you see the pecking order at the front now? Do you think Max is your closest rival?

VB: Well obviously it always depends on the tracks and circumstances but if you look at the trend, let’s say from the last five races, I think Red Bull has been the one who has been improving the most, closing the gap and today qualifying on pole. So, for sure they are doing many things right, and that means we have to work harder as a team but, y’know, I’m sure Ferrari isn’t standing still either. It’s maybe a tricky track for them but we’re going to see a strong performance from them as well.

Lewis, your thoughts.

LH: Enough said.

Max is the top scorer in the last four races

MV: You need to be the top scorer over the whole season, that’s what counts.

Q: (Péter Farkas – Autó-motor) Max, you have been quite close to pole on a couple of occasions recently but you had a problem with the throttle application – turbo-lag, I think – is that problem now solved. And do you agree with Lewis the Honda engine is now at least as powerful as the Mercedes one at certain places.

MV: Yeah, no problems this weekend, so that was all very good. No, I think we are still a bit down, in qualifying especially, but we are definitely closing up.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Valtteri, you have had only one victory from P2. How tricky a place is this to get the second one?

VB: Well, for sure it’s going to be a good battle tomorrow. It’s never going to be easy, and that’s obviously the only target as a driver. And starting in the front row and it’s very much possible. If the performance is there from my side, we as a team, it’s possible. It really doesn’t matter where you start from, as we’ve seen in the past, anything can always happen. Good chance. Very upbeat for tomorrow.

Q: (Luke Smith – Max, throughout your career so far you’ve held the majority of records for being the youngest driver to hit certain achievements. This is one of the few things you’ve missed out on. Do you care much for those kind of accolades and records – or not really?

MV: No. I don't’ know, I can make it a long story but it’s not so. It’s nice but it doesn’t make me sleep better, or anything.

LH: Who has the youngest pole?

MV: I think it’s Seb.

VB: Now you can’t sleep.

MV: Yep, now I’ll have a bad sleep.

Q: (Masahiro Owari – Formula Owari) Question to Max. You struggled with an issue at a couple of grand prix, Hockenheim and Silverstone, how was the issue in today’s qualifying?

MV: Yeah, I just had the same question before. There was no problem this weekend.

Q: (Peter Vamosi – Racing Line) Renault claims that the engine is now at 1000bhp. What about Honda and Mercedes engines in this case? And an engineer said it’s impossible right now in this state to break this, also for Ferrari.

MV: Well, if they claim to have a thousand horsepower they have a really bad car! I think it’s better to do the talking on the track than in the media anyway.

LH: I have no idea what brake horsepower we have so similar; it’s all very close.

VB: Actually just yesterday I asked the team – because we had some engine issues, we had some talks about the engine and I asked how much horsepower we had in qualifying and the engineers said they don’t know, they don’t actually know, so no one knows.

LH: That might be why you’re catching us up.

Q: (Peter Windsor – Clarksport) Max, you used the phrase earlier on ‘we knew Mercedes were going to turn up the engines for qualifying.’ Just to be clear, are you now able to turn up the Honda engine for qualifying, because you implied that but not actually said that?

MV: Yeah, we do but it just seems like it’s not as powerful as maybe… well, looking at Ferrari they really turn it up. We do turn it up but maybe not as aggressive.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - Lewis and Valtteri, Mercedes presented almost a new version of the car at Hockenheim with great changes in the aero package and here the results were maybe not what the team expected. Is that because the teams needs to understand better the new spec of car or even the upgrade was not one the team was expecting?

VB: Well, based on everything we saw with the new package and analysis after last weekend as well it’s working as it should, so it’s a reasonable step forward in terms of downforce and efficiency. I guess other teams are moving ahead as well, forward as well with the performance but for sure we kind of expected to have a bit of a step compared to others but I think they are improving as well. It’s still a development race for quite some while before things are done.

LH: Still trying to understand it. I think there are bits of it that are better and bits of it that are the same. So as I said the other day, we’re just constantly trying to understand it and improve it and I don’t think it’s a negative at all. We definitely have moved forward but clearly the others continue to move forward at the same time, at a steeper pace, maybe.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Practice starts, did they go OK, did they give you confidence?

MV: Yeah, they were all good.

VB: I had a really good practice start.

MV: Yeah? I had a wheelie off the line! I was wheelie-ing.

VB: Yeah? Me too!

MV: Up to second gear!

Q: (Daniel Majer - Lewis and Valtteri, track position on this track is very important so tomorrow if Max comes first from the start, he can have an easier task. Do you think it would be good to discuss with the team any kind of tactics to hunt him down and then play it between yourselves or do you prefer just to mind your own thing?

LH: Where’s the other Red Bull? So we’re in a good position in terms of working as a team tomorrow. We’re in a fortunate position, potentially, if we can hold on to Max to be able to work together to pull him closer to us and give him a bit of a run for his money. It’s a little bit harder when you’re on your own at the front in the team, because you can come under attack from undercuts and all this sort of thing. We’ll see how that plays out but we’ve got a long run down to turn one so hopefully we will have a nice long battle down there and then after that it’s down to team tactics.

VB: Yeah, for sure we always discuss it, especially if we’re kind of starting next to each other and like Lewis said, we have a good chance as a team because we have two cars very much at the front. Obviously we are both also racing for our own result but also working as a team will benefit both of us so it should be interesting tomorrow.

Q: (Zsolt Godina – Lewis, can you please tell us how was your preparation for this race weekend after your problems in Hockenheim?

LH: It was just sleep. I didn’t get any training done, just literally sleeping a lot all week. That’s all I can really say about it.

Q: Are you healthy this weekend?

LH: Yeah, I feel a lot better, a lot better. Sweating a lot still but much better.

Q: (Viktor Bognar – Magyar Szo) Max, in the past couple of weeks you were quickest in the fast and very hot Red Bull Ring. You were quickest in the wet Hockenheim and now you’re quickest here in the cooler and slow Hungaroring. Can Red Bull and you be favourites in the next races or what makes you think you can’t be?

MV: I don’t know. We’ve got Spa and Monza coming up. Monza is maybe not our best track. Spa I don’t know actually, but first we have the summer break as well so honestly I’m not thinking about that yet. I feel good. I think the last few races, even on tracks where I didn’t expect to be like really, really competitive we were still there so anything can happen, to be honest.

Friday, 2 August 2019

PREVIEW: The Title Fight heats up heading to Trois-Rivieres.

The FIA World Rallycross Championship heads to Trois-Rivieres for round seven of Championship.

The 1.37km high-speed circuit throws up all manner of challenges. And, as is customary with street layouts flanked by concrete walls, errors are heavily punished.

Six points is the difference between team-mates Kevin Hansen and his older brother Timmy Hansen, while Andreas Bakkerud is a further 22 points behind Kevin. 

After round six in Sweden at the start of July, Kevin said he was set for a battle to the wire. “To lead the championship by just six points is nothing and with Timmy as my team-mate we will continue pushing and at the end of the season we will see who had the most luck and who didn’t,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Timmy is relishing the challenge of Trois-Rivieres.  “Canada is one of my favourite circuits of the year, because it's a really complete rallycross track. You have asphalt, you have gravel, you have a bit of everything. The asphalt and gravel are in two distinct sections and there's a jump between each section so you really have to switch from one mode to the next," said Timmy Hansen. 

"The asphalt section has the highest top speed of the year, and it's somewhere that you have to use all the road, getting as close to the walls as you dare, and that's where you can really make up time," he adds. "So you need to be quite brave!”

Having claimed victory in Canada in 2016 and finished second last year, Timmy enters the weekend as favourite. He proved in Sweden, when he rebounded from as low as 16th in qualifying to reach the final, that he can put things right when it matters. 

Kevin competes in the same machinery as his brother for the first time in his career and takes the momentum from Sweden having finished second in the final to regain the championship lead.

As for Bakkerud, he has been a bumper-length away from victory most notably at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps where he was pipped by Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov respectively.

Bakkerud was second to Timmy Hansen in Canada in 2016 and a finalist in 2015 where he finished fifth. The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver was disadvantaged by the changeable weather in Sweden and his Audi S1 was brought to a halt by a broken driveshaft in his semi-final. “I’m hoping to put the bad luck of Sweden behind me,” he said. “Canada is always a challenge so I’m looking forward to it.”

Niclas Gronholm, the winner in Hell, Norway, is currently fourth in the chase on 96 points despite missing the rounds in Belgium and Great Britain through illness.

The GRX Taneco driver believes his Hyundai i20 will be up for the job in Trois-Rivieres. “I’m really looking forward to the race in Canada – I think we have a good car for the track,” the Finn said.

“I like racing at Trois-Rivieres even though it is very tricky in some places and since this is a street circuit, there is no room for errors. It’s been a long break from racing now, my ‘batteries’ are fully charged and motivation is high.”

Timur Timerzyanov, the winner of round three in Belgium, is also looking forward to spreading the World RX gospel. “Rallycross for North America is still a relatively new thing and I am glad that we can show Canadians how exciting it is,” the Russian said.

“There is always plenty of action and great racing at Trois-Rivieres, with sudden weather changes possibly mixing up the field even more.”

The consistency of Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis has brought rewards with the Latvian holding down fifth place overall (89 points) after appearing in four of the six finals to date. The highlight was third place in Norway. 

Bakkerud’s Monster RX Cartel team-mate Liam Doran has rued missed opportunities this year. He has made the podium once (in Abu Dhabi) from four finals. The Briton lies seventh with 76 points, two behind Timerzyanov, and is seeking redemption this time out.

“I’ve struggled a bit at the more traditional rallycross tracks – Norway and Sweden – and I’m looking forward to Canada which is a different style of track. Hopefully it will bring a change of fortune,” said Doran. 

Timo Scheider, a semi-finalist in Canada two years’ ago, believes Trois-Rivieres will mostly be all about horsepower. “Canada is an engine track. It has the longest and quickest straight on the calendar,” he said.

“But you also need good aero and mechanical grip for the dirt section which is quite rough. I think the Seat will be suited to the track and we have a small upgrade for Canada so I’m optimistic.”

The five-car GC Kompetition squad are also likely to feature strongly, according to team boss Guerlain Chicherit. “In Holjes we showed competitive pace and found some consistency. Canada is an exciting track for both the Meganes and the Clios and a really fun event to be at,” he said.

EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo and Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett are also looking to overcome the disappointment of finishing down the order in Holjes due to mishaps and mechanical failures. 

FIA Team Members' Press Conference: 2019 Hungarian GP.

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Andreas SEIDL (McLaren), Christian HORNER (Red Bull), Mattia BINOTTO (Ferrari), Claire WILLIAMS (Williams), Beat ZEHNDER (Alfa Romeo)


Q: Christian, Max Verstappen is the man of the moment, having won two of the last three races. Can you just give us your thoughts on his current level of performance? Have you worked with a better driver? And how tough is it for any team-mate to match him?

Christian HORNER: I think Max, not just in the last three races but during the course of the whole of this seasons, indeed pretty much Montreal last year, he’s been driving incredibly well at a very high standard. It’s certainly started to come together over the last few races. The win in Austria was a watershed moment, we were competitive at Silverstone, and obviously the race, the excitement of last weekend was a phenomenal performance by him, to keep his head, to have the pace in all varying conditions, and come out on top and win the grand prix. So, yeah, he’s in great form and you know, hopefully we can continue that form into the summer break and out of the other side as well. He’s certainly delivering at an extremely high level.

Q: How tough for any team-mate to match him?

CH: I think very tough. If you go up against Verstappen at the moment, for me arguably he is the most in-form driver on the grid. That’s an enormous barometer for any driver to go up and be measured against. As a competitor you always want to measure yourself against the best that you can. So, he’s a benchmark that obviously Pierre is measuring himself against.

Q: Mattia, if we could come onto you please. Rollercoaster weekend for the team at Hockenheim – the disappointment of qualifying and then the brilliant comeback drive by Sebastian. How do you begin to analyse a weekend like that?

Mattia BINOTTO: I think, as you said, the disappointment at first. I think we knew that we’d got a good car at Hockenheim, we’d been fast on Friday, Saturday and in the race itself. We didn't score the pole but we believed that we’d got the potential for it. And certainly when you’re starting a race on the front row or the back of the grid, it’s two different scenarios. Again disappointment, because it’s more the empty glass. I think it’s really a missed opportunity again for us, to have a victory in Hockenheim. And I think as a team it’s where we need to focus: first of witnesses of what was wrong during the weekend. On the other side, I think still positive feedback, and we should not forget about them. I think we got, as I said, a competitive car whatever the conditions from hot conditions on Friday or cooler temperatures on Sunday, even the wet, so I think a lot of positives, the strategy of the team, the way we managed strategy, the pit stops during the race, race situations. And the team somehow kept focused after the disappointment of Saturday, and somehow were prepared for a good race. And a good race for Seb. No doubt. We are all pleased for him. I think it was important for him to have such, let me say, a race in Germany with a hometown and the crowd there. So, all pleased by that but I think overall we keep the disappointment of the weekend.

Q: Claire, you scored a point at Hockenheim, pending the appeal by Alfa Romeo. Your team has scored 3561 points in its history – but what did this point mean to you? Was it just reward for all the hard work?

Claire WILLIAMS: I think the point Tom, that you made about the number of points that Williams has scored in our history. I think for us to get excited about one point would probably be slightly erroneous. Everybody at Williams has been working so hard this year, it has been another brutal season for us, so I suppose to get any kind of reward, we should take and we should accept gladly – but as you say, Alfa have submitted their appeal against that so I think we’re going to have to wait and see – but one point for me, I think, as a Williams, I can’t personally be happy with that and I don’t think anyone in our team is necessarily ecstatic about it.

Q: Let’s move on to Beat and talk about that appeal. You’ve lodged the appeal after the race. Can you tell us what you’ve done that?

Beat ZEHNDER: We’ve been penalised after the race and we went for appeal, which is the normal procedure if you want to fight, and you think you have some arguments to win – otherwise you wouldn’t do it.

Q: What were the mitigating circumstances? Why have you lodged that appeal?

BZ: It’s an ongoing process and I cannot give you any information. Everything will be disclosed on the 24th of September when the hearing will take place in Paris.

Q: OK, let’s cast the net a bit wider then. You’ve now been at Sauber for 32 years – the team in all its different guises. What’s your assessment of the path that Alfa is now on? Do you feel more comfortable than you’ve been for several years?

BZ: Of course, we’re in a better situation, especially on the financial side. We’ve gone through very difficult times in 2014, 2015, 2016; we’ve been close to shutting down the company. And I think this is, with Alfa Romeo and with the new ownership, we’re in a much better situation and I think the big achievement of the team is that we’re still around.

Q: Andreas, it’s been an impressive season for McLaren. You’re now 31 points ahead of Renault. Does the size of that gap surprise you in any way?

Andreas SEIDL: It’s obviously good that we have all these points in the pocket with not necessarily having the fourth fastest car for all the races, so that’s good but at the same time it’s not something we get carried away with. We have seen, for example at the last race, you just need one crazy race where Hülkenberg, for example is scoring P2 and we have no points and we would have a different discussion today. It’s important for us to keep our heads down, to just keep pushing, to bring more and more updates on the track, and keep this positive journey up. But, of course, it’s nice to be in this P4 at the moment and we try to fight for that until the end of the season.

Q: Tell us more about this positive journey, because last time you were here you said you’d arrived at a team on the rise. Just how far can you go? Can you challenge Red Bull?

AS: The reality is that we’re still getting lapped. If there’s a normal race. So there’s still a lot of hard work in front of us. But, as I said before, it’s important that we keep progressing as a team together with our drivers. It’s good to see that the updates are working and hopefully we can make the next step with our car, also for next year. This is really what my focus is on. There’s no magic, as we know, in Formula 1. It’s down to hard work, to stay focused, and this is what I try, together with the team.


Q: (Luke Smith – Question for Christian. Tom touched on Max’s incredible recent form – I think he’s been in the top five for all the last 20 races. He really appears to have hit the potential that we saw in the early part of his career. What changed with Max to cause this form recently? You said Montreal last year. Was it that rough start to last season? How important was that to him do you think?

CH: I think that Max is obviously still a young guy, he’s only 21 years of age – but he’s now in his fifth season of grand prix racing and he’s now got the benefit of experience under his belt as well. His speed, his race craft, has never really been in any doubt but he’s got that collection of knowledge and experience now. I think, you know, obviously last year, the beginning of the year was a little challenging for him with some missed opportunities. I think he reflected on that and really turned the corner from Montreal last year. That run of performances really since then has been phenomenal. I think he’s continuing to evolve. I think that this year he really has stepped up as well as the senior driver, and he’s performing at a very level – and that in turn pushes the team very hard as well. I think with the new relationship with Honda, he’s enjoying that working environment, that working relationship as well. And so, there’s certainly a very positive vibe around him at the moment.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) To all five please. The talk about expanding the calendar. If we go up to 22 races do you think we would need to increase the number of engines and engine components you are allowed to use over the course of the season? Would that be one of the defining factors? And what does that do for the costs involved. Obviously F1 wants to bring down the cost, but adding more races, using more engines is expensive. Your thoughts on that please?

AS: Yeah, in principle we support the direction of going for 22 races next year. There’s a discussion ongoing at the moment about what that means actually in terms of the number of components to be used and also the costs for a team like us, so that’s still ongoing. I think if you look at the bigger picture for us, it’s simply important now also to be a bit careful not to increase the number of races even further – for two reasons really. First of all, I think we really need to look after our people and make sure that we don’t ask for too much there, because I think if we go now for the next step of even more races we definitely have to change some things inside our organisations, for all teams. And then, yeah, that’s pretty much it. The second point of course we understand the commercial point of view but I think it‘s also important that we keep this exclusivity for each of the events, which doesn’t necessarily get better by adding more and more races.

CH: The commercial rights holder has come to us to say, you know, that 22 races is a possibility for next year and would we support it. I think in principle, yes, is the answer, but it has to be combined with what other activities are going on in terms of: do we need to do as much in-season testing as we currently do; do we need to do as much pre-season testing? And I think if we are to introduce a 22nd race the majority of teams are taking penalties and using four engines anyway, so one would assume that it would make sense to increase the allocation on power units and components and perhaps if we look at the ratio and say ‘well, OK, rather than using engines for going testing and if we reduce the in-season testing and pre-season testing slightly, if that frees up an engine that the majority of teams they’re going to use anyway. From the next race there is going to be a whole raft of penalties coming through, and we’re only just halfway through the season, so introducing another race on top of that and expecting teams to get through on three engines and three sets of components is a bit of a tall ask.

MB: I think very similar to the first answers. We are supportive on a 22nd race if that means some more revenues but we need to certainly be careful on the costs, the extra costs. If you look as well at 2021 at the moment we are discussing for 24 races but no extra engines, no extra units, so I think it’s only a path to 2021, so increasing the number of units for next year would be simply wrong, because it would mean, yes, more revenues, but then more costs, which would make no sense overall and so it should be on the power unit manufacturer to try to do an effort which is in the direction of 2021 to afford an extra race with the components we’ve got.

Q: Would you like to see a reduction in testing as well, like Christian?

MB: I think it’s certainly something we need to discuss but it could be a great idea, yes.

Q: OK. Claire?

CW: Yeah, I would probably just echo what everybody else has said. I there is a lot more conversation to be had around it, particularly around the components. From a financial perspective, we need to just make sure that it’s going to work, that it cover all our costs, and we are at that point now where we’d say yes it would. But I think most importantly from our side it’s consideration of our team personnel. I think pretty much they are pushed to the limit at the moment with what we are asking them to do with 21 races and the tests on top of that and then the work they have to do in the factory in between. In our team we don’t necessarily have the luxury of rotating staff in and out, we are at capacity on head count. So it would be around looking into that and working out whether we need to bring in more people to support it. I think from our perspective again, I wouldn’t want to see a triple-header on the calendar. I think we have been assured that there wouldn’t be one. I think that broke a lot of people last year, but also from a logistical perspective that is just a nightmare; it’s a disaster. Going to Austria I think it was when we all took makeshift motorhomes, it doesn’t look great for the race but it’s just not good for anyone’s cost base either.

Q: Beat?

BZ: I see it more from an organizational point of view. I’m not too concerned about PU elements; I’m more concerned about team members. As a small team we’re at the limit with 21 races already. Any additional race will make it more difficult and we have to think about increasing the number of race team members and establishing a rotating system in a way.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Christian, have Mercedes approached Red Bull about Max’s availability and would it be a good thing, do you think, for the sport to have Lewis and Max together in the same car?

CH: Toto has certainly not spoken to me about it. He speaks to almost every driver on the grid, so I would think if he has had a conversation it’s been direct not through the team. The situation with Max is clear and as with other drivers there are always trigger points. But in terms of having those two in one team, I haven’t heard from Lewis either that he wants to join next year. You can see positives and negative in that. I think that ideally we want to see teams going head to head and the drivers are obviously very much part of that team. It would be great to see Ferrari with their drivers, Red Bull with our drivers and Mercedes with their drivers all fighting it out, and whoever else can get up there as well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that two drivers have to be in the same team.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) For everybody, on the 2021 rules. How concerning is it that less than three months to go before the deadline you are still discussing major, fundamental issues like refueling and how heavy the cars are? How has it ended that way, with such a short amount of time left, and what are the risks of the F1 rules, as intended, not actually happening as a result?

MB: How much concerning it is? I think certainly there is very little time now from until the end of October and certainly there is quite a long list of open items, open subjects. But more important, I think, is that the discussions ongoing. I think it would be a lot worse if no discussion would take place and somebody is deciding for everybody. So the fact that we have go discussion is certainly what’s positive and it’s in our hands to make sure that we properly collaborate with F1 and the FIA and the teams to address the main points for 2021. And as I often indicated I think, we have certainly got common goals and common objectives for 2021 – sustainability is a key factor – but I think we need as well to pay attention not to overreact in terms of technical, because do we need a better show? I think if you look at the last races, certainly we may still have a good show in certain conditions, but certainly these conditions need to be identified and pursued, so I think changing the car, changing the technical means, spending, re-engineering, proof of concepts, so whatever we may choose, we need to choose it because we are fully all convinced that it is going in the right direction. But yeah, there is very little time and it’s a lot to discuss, but good that we are still discussing.

CH: Well, I pushed very hard to get the rule process to be moved from end of June to what’s now the end of October because I think if we would have had regulations just introduced we would have been in a real mess. So I think the key thing now is how we use that time during the next three months to ensure that the regulations that we do end up with on October 31, as Mattia says, that we focus on the right things. There is a series of collective meetings that between now and the decision point where we really need to get into the detail of what is the objective of the change and does the change of regulation achieve those objectives, from a show point of view, from a cost point of view. I think we really have to drill into detail over the next few meetings to ensure that with what is presented on October 31 there is a sensible theme to.

AS: From our point of view we see it clearly it different. I think it’s about time now to simply stop discussing. We all have downloaded our input. We do this since two years, all teams. I think FIA, Formula 1 has a clear idea of what they want to put in place, they presented that also to you guys two weeks ago. We simply want to see action now and we can move on.

CW: Not a whole lot to add. I think everybody has said it already. The regulations were delayed a little bit but I don’t think they were in the right place in order to sign them off anyway back in June. It gives us a bit more time to debate. I suppose my bigger concern is not that we won’t get it done it’s more about what’s going to change between June and October. We had some foundation principles in place and we fundamentally agreed with those at Williams and I’d like to see those stuck to as best as possible between now and then, but I think it’s par for the course this process in Formula 1 and we have to have those regs signed in October, whatever they will be, so we’ve got to do a good enough job between now and then to make sure they are the best they can be.

BZ: There is a lot of work to do in all the several working groups. What slows down the process is probably is that there are new elements coming on the table every now and then, like refueling. Six months no one talked about refuelling and we have to consider it carefully. There was a reason we stopped refuelling in 2009. It was not only for financial reasons. It was not good for the sport. Before we talk about re-introducing we should carefully assess whether it is good for the show and good for the sport.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) I wonder if I could get an update maybe from Mattia and Christian about the unsafe release situation. Has there been an assurance from the FIA as to how they are going to handle this in the future? Obviously, Mattia, your team was fined rather than being handed a time penalty at Hockenheim.

MB: Several races are difficult situations, difficult situations to judge, difficult situations to act on. During the weekend at Hockenheim, I think that the drivers met with the FIA on the Thursday and discussed the approach. What was key was certainly to be safe respective to the mechanics in the pit lane which was a key factor and for example, in the case of Charles, the Red Bull team was ready for a pit stop and was just in front of him and I think the way that somehow Charles drove was very safe in respect of the mechanics and the pit crew. Yes, he had to slow down to be careful with the cars coming in but that’s a racing situation and I think that as a team, when you’ve got such traffic, again, I think what is key is safety first and then in a racing situation where we have been fined, I don’t think there will be a much different situation or different judgement in the future. I think the way it has been judged was the proper one.

CH: I slightly crapped myself when I saw Romain Grosjean heading for me at the pit wall. From my point of view it looked really unsafe, pretty frightening prospect that. Yeah, it’s a tricky one isn’t it? Max got a penalty in Monaco for what was an unfair release and it was deemed that it was because he touched the car of Bottas. It’s a tricky one, they are slightly different incidents but I think that what you want to see more than anything is an element of consistency because otherwise, from a team point of view, from the guy that’s releasing the car, what call does he make when he’s making that release now? It’s a difficult one. Where there are pit lanes like in Silverstone, we actually had a good scenario where the two cars were released and there was enough room for them to go side-by-side down the pit lane.

Q: (Viktor Adorján – GP-Hírek) Going back to the topic of logistics, there was a road accident involving one of the Renault trucks earlier this week, coming from Hockenheim. Can you please tell us facts and figures about the level and volume of equipment that you brought here and what kind of security measures do you take in order to ensure that this precious equipment actually arrives safe and sound to European locations?

BZ: Obviously, as a team you are well prepared for back-to-backs and all the other European races you normally have external truck drivers, or truck drivers, team truck drivers who have rested on the Sunday and only drive when they’re supposed to. You don’t have team members like twenty years ago who worked the whole day and then in the evening jumped in the truck and then drove to the next event, so everything is safe and sound and accidents like this can happen. I think we’re moving more than 400 lorries from one event to the next and considering that, there are not a lot of accidents happening.

CW: First, I don’t have an update from the driver that was driving that truck and I hope that he’s alright. Thank you. I don’t know, necessarily, I apologise for it, I don’t necessarily know the tonnage of equipment that we send between back-to-back races – I know it’s an awful lot, there are an awful lot of people involved in the logistics in our team and they do a fantastic job of it and as has been said, we do everything to comply to the regulations that are out there by how many hours the drivers can drive, they’re not working prior to them driving etc, so you do take the best approach that you can to avoid those situations. But sometimes those situations are unavoidable but in this case, I think we’re all just pleased that the driver was OK.

MB: Not much to add. I think that Beat made the picture and the picture is very similar for all the teams. As he said, the drivers are not people that are working throughout the weekend, especially not at a back-to-back. Certainly we as team principals of teams are taking care of our people, making sure that what they are doing at the tracks or driving, we are always doing that in a safe manner with the proper way of applying things, let me say. But what happened is to be considered serious, no doubt, and whatever is happening, as a team, we have the responsibility to review what happened and there is a necessity to try eventually to improve. I don’t have the details in that case but as Ferrari we would certainly consider if we can even do better in the future.

CH: It’s a big challenge getting all the equipment, the cars, the engineering centre, in our case the Energy Station - I think we’re in excess of 40 trucks to get to an event and when you’ve got a back-to-back event, that’s an added pressure, that they’ve got to be here really by Tuesday, Tuesday afternoon so it’s another thing to take into consideration, with the logistics of an increased calendar is not putting too much tension on the movement of parts and people from one venue to another. Accidents do happen and I don’t know the details of the accident, thankfully the driver, from what I heard, was OK but it’s inevitable that, unfortunately accidents do happen and I think the most important things are you try and mitigate that as best you can and as others have said, with contract drivers it’s not like the old days when the truckies – well, the truckies don’t drive trucks any more. I don’t know why they’re still called truckies. In fact I think we’ve only got one truck driver who can drive a truck. Everybody has contractors that specifically are here just to move the vehicles around.

AS: Yeah, nothing to add, really. Happy that the driver is OK on the Renault side and as mentioned, each team puts a lot of effort into making sure our people are well protected, get their sleeping times, resting times and so on and luckily, as Beat said at the beginning, with all the movements that are happening we can be lucky that not more is happening.

Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) To the four people either side of Mattia: I was just wondering if I could get an appreciation please from you all of Mattia, his longevity in F1 and his handling so far of probably arguably the toughest job in motor sport?

CH: How long have you been at Ferrari? Thirty-five years? Twenty-five. Crikey, you must have just left school and gone straight there. Well, look, running Ferrari obviously has pressure. I think Mattia has obviously been managing the technical side and team principal side of things but he’s great to work with… it’s strange talking about your competitor when he’s next to you but he seems to be doing OK so far.

AS: Obviously I respect all of my colleagues here inside the paddock a lot. But I have my own dream job and that’s the focus on so not a lot to comment really. Colleague, good to talk to.

CW: Did you say that Mattia has the hardest job in F1 at the moment? I thought that was me at the moment! Mattia goes to work for Ferrari. He probably gets a free… How many free Ferraris do you get, Mattia? Probably about ten in your driveway! No, all joking aside, I’ve only had the privilege of working with Mattia for a short amount of time in our strategy groups etc but I have all due respect for him and I hope that he stays with us for a long time. Obviously Ferrari have had a lot of chopping and changing with their TP so it would be great to have some stability.

BZ: I’ve known Mattia for a very long time and appreciate him very much and his work. I think every team principal at Ferrari has a difficult job if they’re not winning races but as Claire said, every other team principal has a similar task and a difficult job, especially if you don’t have a competitive car or if you have financial difficulties so it’s not only the top shots, it’s the bottom end as well.

Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) Mattia, before the start of this season, you pointed out that one of the things that was missing at Ferrari maybe in the last couple of years was having fun with the racing. Obviously, as the season has turned out, is it possible to have fun in this situation and to restore that fun, and if so, what are you going to do to restore it? Or if not, how can you manage the mood?

MB: You’re right, I think having fun is important if you think of how many days we are here at the race tracks or back at the factory and how much time we are really spending for what we are doing, so having fun is important, it is something which we are trying to pursue. Not winning doesn’t make the task easier no doubt but I think having fun is a matter of team spirit as well, how the team is behaving together, with the drivers, with the engineers, the mechanics and if there is anything I can say is that I think we have got a great team spirit at the moment and that is that the people are happy to come to the race track for at least challenging the next race and we are all here to seek our victory which didn’t happen so far. I think there have been a few missed opportunities but I think again the fun is in the spirit and that can be done whatever the results.

Q: (Dániel Horváth – The Paddock Magazine) Andreas, as you mentioned earlier, McLaren made a big step forward this year and you already have more points than last year. What course will you set for 2020?

AS: The targets for 2020. I think it’s simply important to make the next step as a team, together with our drivers and also in terms of car performance. Next year will be first car under the full leadership of James Key compared to the previous cars; also I think we are somehow back to a more normal rhythm in terms of timing, when we started with the concept phase of the car, but again there’s no magic in Formula One. I hope we can fully make the next step but at the same time we shouldn’t get carried away and dream of challenging for race wins or stuff like that next year.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

FIA Drivers' Press Conference: 2019 Hungarian GP.

DRIVERS – Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Robert KUBICA (Williams), Lance STROLL (Racing Point), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas), Romain GROSJEAN (Haas)


Q: Daniil, if we could start with you. It’s been a whirlwind few days for you with that podium finish last time out and the birth of your daughter. Have your feet touched the ground yet?

Daniil KVYAT: Yes. I mean, it’s OK, we are already here in Hungary now but talking about last week it was a quite special 24, or 48 hours, either way you want to look at it. Obviously I found out on Saturday night that I became a father, that my daughter is born and is doing great, so it’s a great feeling – but obviously the next day there was a race to do. It was important to stay focused on it. The race was great as well. It’s a podium. So, many things happened in 24 hours for me and, yeah, fantastic feeling. Happy few days after and now we’re here.

Q: Just tell us about your schedule in those following days. Where have you been?

DK: Went straight to hospital on Sunday night, slept there with them – not too much sleep straight away after the race. So, for me, it was good. And then just home until leaving here to Hungary. Bit of recovery between races, light training but obviously always visiting Kelly and our daughter. And that’s it. Yesterday I arrived here.

Q: What was the reception like in the Formula 1 paddock to your podium. Did you get a 7am phone call from Dr Marko on Monday morning?

DK: No. You should tell me! You’re a journalist, how was the reception. Generally, talking about the team, everyone was very happy. I think first podium in 11 years for our team. It was a fantastic achievement and I think we were very happy. Everyone. Every member of the team. I was so happy to see that everyone was so happy in the team. When I crossed the start-finish line it was a very special feeling. A lot of emotions. I really enjoyed those few hours after the race. It was unforgettable.

Q: Robert, talking of happy vibes in a team, there was certainly a happy Williams team late on Sunday evening when news came through that you’ve got the point. You’ve scored many World Championship points in your career – 274 – but how different was this one to the ones that came before because of what it meant to Williams?

Robert KUBICA: Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s a bit mixed feelings in the end because of course it’s good to have this one point on the scoreboard but the way it came is for sure is not the way you would expect. Of course, it was a crazy race, many mistakes. We managed to stay on track, although our pace was questionable but still, managed to keep it on the black. And then, with Alfa being penalised, we gained two positions, so it meant that we would be tenth, which is for sure good – but still we have to keep working, keep pushing and definitely  this point is somehow… thanks to the guys which are doing a great job on track, pushing really hard, we are really not having a great moment but still, Hockenheim was also thanks to them.

Q: What’s your realistic assessment of the upgrades the team brought to Hockenheim?

RK: Realistic, well, it’s good to have them. I think it’s something for which they’ve been working for long. We do see some improvements. Of course it’s difficult to judge and compare Silverstone to Hockenheim: completely different tracks ambient temperature, so all those things were not easy to have clear judgement. Our guys can see the improvement in the data – but I think everyone is improving, so you know in order to close the gap we need to make bigger improvements compared to our competition and this is not easy with Formula 1 standards: all the teams are pushing hard – so it is a big battle, I think even more at home in the factory, that the people are working hard but you know it’s so difficult with current Formula 1 teams to close the gap to them.

Q: Lance, fourth was a great haul of points for you at Hockenheim. Are you sensing an upward curve from the team from now on.

Lance STROLL: Yeah, it was a great result. Like you said, a lot of points. We were really happy about that. I am sensing some improvement. I definitely think we took a step in Hockenheim, looking at our pace throughout the weekend, Friday, Saturday, we were much more competitive than we’ve been in recent events, which is always a good thing. That being said, it’s still very, very tight in the midfield and every tenth counts. I’m sure it will be very track-dependent from now until the end of the season – which tracks suit our car, more than others. But yeah, it was a great Sunday but also a much better weekend in terms of performance and where we’ve been throughout the weekend in comparison to other weekends.

Q: So, more performance in Hockenheim but just looking at the season so far, as a whole, how has this year compared to your previous two seasons in Formula One?

LS: Every year is unique in its own way. When I reflect on the last couple of years, I definitely think that the sport is much more competitive than it was two years ago. Looking back at 2017 when I came into it, it was… yeah, there were much bigger gaps between the teams and I think, at the time, coming into the weekend, when I was at Williams, we had a pretty good idea where we’d be relative to the competition. And in the race it was, yeah, there was definitely more guarantee of scoring points – and now you really see tight margins between the teams and very close racing in the midfield. Last year, of course, was a challenging season for me at Williams. We didn’t really have the pace to score points like we did in 2017. When I look at this year in comparison to a couple of years ago, it’s definitely become much more competitive, the sport – which is a good thing. I think, hopefully, in the near future, we can start seeing that from first place onwards where we can be battling between teams every event.

Q: I’d like to come on to Kevin and Romain together now. First up, congratulations on the double points finish in Hockenheim, however the race marked the third time you guys have hit each other on track this year: Spain; Silverstone and, of course, Hockenheim. I just want to ask why this keep happening? Kevin, perhaps we could start with you?

Kevin MAGNUSSEN: I don’t know really. I think it’s… you know… it’s happened a few times this year and, in terms of… it happened in Silverstone and it had a consequence for both of us. We punctured. I think that was pretty unlucky, to have two cars puncturing for such a small contact. There were no bad intentions from either of us in that moment. It was just… we came together and then punctured . Later in the race you see other cars flying into each other, flying over the track and nothing happened. Got to look at that as well to say, bad luck really. That’s pretty much it.

Romain, your thoughts

Romain GROSJEAN: We love each other. That’s why we get on, have a bit of a kiss on track. No, I think, as Kevin said, there’s been a bit of bad luck in Silverstone. I think the relationship, people could think that it doesn’t look good but actually the relationship with Kevin is really good. We phone each other once a week or so. We sat down and said, ‘what can we do better’, just to make sure that’s not happening again. Obviously we’ve got the same car, so it’s happening that we are side-by-side on track more often than with the Mercedes, for example. Yeah, there are things we can probably do better. I think the most important is that we always try to do our best for the team, and give our best and maybe just the cursor wasn’t well positioned on some of the occasions we had, and we just going to make sure we get better from there. Honestly, the relationship is very good and we actually like – well, I like working with Kevin, maybe he doesn’t – but I think he likes it also. We work well together and we get on nicely.

And Kevin likes working with Romain?

KM: Absolutely.

RG: Just don’t say no now…

KM: I think in the heat of the moment, we’re blaming each other on the radio and stuff like that – but what people don’t see is that we get together between the races and talk it through and try to be constructive and move on in a constructive way. Apart from those incidents on track, I feel that we have a pretty good working relationship. And actually, Romain is a cool guy, and we actually have a good time when we go to work. So, it’s being blown out of proportion a little bit. I know you guys love a bit of a conflict and stuff like that, so… but it isn’t as bad as it looks.


Q: (Péter Vámosi – Racing Line) A question for Robert. First of all, you really have good heritage here at the Hungaroring, you’ve scored many points here. Do you think this year, with the Williams, at this track, where you don’t need so much power, can you score again?

RK: Well, I think, actually, Hungary has never been very lucky for me. I don’t remember how many points I scored. I think the power is the only area where we are not lacking anything in our car, so power, thanks to Mercedes’ power unit, is the strongest area of our car. This track is very complex. I think there are sections that require a lot of mechanical and aero grip, so I would say it’s not the kind of track where we will be closer to the competition than others.

Q: (Luke Smith – Romain and Kevin, Guenther has said that he is going to have to take a firmer approach with you two to stop these clashes on track – rules of engagement, things like that. What’s your response to that? Do you feel it is necessary to put this in place between you two? Is it disappointing that that action has to be taken?

RG: No, I think again we are here to do the best for the team and if that’s the solution, the short-term fix, then why not. I think, as I say. We’re not here fighting for the first or second place in the world championship. I don’t really give a damn if I finish 14th or 16th at the end. We don’t have a fast car at the minute and the focus is on getting that car to work well. The team has been reverting me back to the car from Melbourne. I have been running for three events now, just trying to understand everything, so I think the bigger picture, the big keys, is to understand how we get faster and better, how we can come back in the Constructors’ Championship and to make sure that the future of the team is not compromised by a non-understanding of the car.

Q: Kevin, rules of engagement?

KM: At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what we think, we will just respect what is being said and required by the team. I can understand the team’s point of view. We had a pretty bad experience in Silverstone and clearly they want to avoid that happening again and we’re just going to deal with it in the way we’re required and make the best for the team, as Romain said.

Q: (Eva Vandor – HVG) Daniil, congratulations on so many levels – becoming a father, on getting back to the podium and getting back to Hungary as well, it’s been a while. Can you tell us a little bit about the mental transformation of the last few years – from being out of F1 to getting back to the podium?

DK: Well, I think it was important to realize the points that you can improve as a driver and as a person before my comeback to Formula 1. Obviously it wasn’t easy to lose the seat in the Formula 1 and at some point it was thought that there was no way back in for me. But since I got the call; back in, it was important to come back very prepared and better mentally prepared as well, I think. I think now all this work is paying off and I’m very happy with how things are working out. I’m happy with the people around me, the team around me, how we work on things. It’s important that now I feel a much better driver than I was in the past. It’s also very important also to back this up with strong results. This year in general has been strong and I think we can continue in this way. I’m really enjoying this, so hopefully we can keep going.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) Good to see, Romain and Kevin, that you’re best of buddies and that you’ve got a great relationship, but it does appear that you’re very quick to blame each other when you have these incidents. Do you both still believe that the other one is very much at fault or would you say that you should both share the responsibility for what’s happened at the team recently?

KM: I think that in the heat of the moment, you know, you’re always feel that you’re in the right, and then you analyse things after you see it’s probably more level and not as big a deal as it felt like on track. At the end of the day I don’t think it’s such a big deal, you know. We will try to do everything we can to not have these issues again. I think, as I said before, it became a very big issue when we both punctured in Silverstone. Apart from that, the end of the story is that we do respect each other and we want to do the best for the team and there have been laid out some guidelines for us now that we’re going to respect and then just carry on.

RG: I think on the football pitch you don’t have any microphone listening to what… even inside a football team between the team players they can say things, they’re not happy with each other, and you’re not saying that ‘oh that team is having any issue’, because I think in Formula 1 it’s great that everything is broadcast but also it makes a story out of nothing. As I say, our relationship is good. When you’re driving at 300kph obviously you’re not going to say ‘Oh, please, I think I was in my right, and he was in his wrong and would you mind giving me the position back, but I my only, please’. You’re just going to say: ‘F**k of, just give me the position.’ Unless you want us you want us to be very, very boring, then I’ll remove the microphone from the helmet, then I think it’s always going to happen. Still it’s false but that doesn’t really matter, does it.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) To Romain and Kevin again: how concerned are you both that this could be putting your future at the team at risk?

RG: Ah, let me answer the question differently. I was more worried last year than this year. Last year there were a lot of reasons that I could have ended up this year at home and I did many mistakes that I shouldn’t have done with my experience. But I think since then I have recovered pretty well. I think everything we have been saying this year – the eye opener for the guys on reverting back to the old spec car, because I asked, shows that the experience is very important in Formula 1. Everything in the team has now changed. The focus is on the different parts and how we make sure we improve the car other than we just put upgrades without really knowing where we are. The races I’m happy with my performance. I think in qualifying I could have been better earlier in the year but now it’s back to where it was. As I said, last year there were many reasons, to be frank, to stay home. This year I guess there are many less.

KM: Not worried at all.

Q: (Dániel Horváth – The Paddock magazine) There has been some talk about the possible return of refuelling into the sport. Do you think that’s a good idea?

RG: If I may jump in for the GPDA on that one? I think if you guys agree… No? OK go ahead, save me doing what I say all the time! No, it was brought up by the GPDA because we have four key points that we want to improve to improve the show and those are tyres, aero sensitivity, weight of the car and money distribution. Robert came back into Formula One one or two years ago and said the cars felt really heavy and they are and the regulation makes it that they are getting heavier and heavier year after year and we don’t have any solution with the current engine to bring the weight down. Therefore the idea of refuelling was brought in as a short term fix to help the tyres to not overheat that much and get better racing and better following in the car early in the race. It needs to be looked at but it’s not that we want refuelling, it’s that we need to find a solution to get the car lighter to be easy on the tyres and therefore having a better show.

RK: Copy paste.

DK: I think it’s not just one simple thing that just needs to be changed and it’s a magic switch and that’s it and we will have amazing races every race. It’s a combination of things that just need to be put together and strongly put together by one person who will say it will be done this way, obviously who will consider everyone’s opinion. Refuelling doesn’t seem a bad idea. I think we’re looking at more general things like the aero of the car, tyres, how we follow each other, brakes, common parts. Say for example a radio ban wouldn’t change anything on the racing or small things like if we do less switches on the steering wheel it would not change a lot, will not have a big impact on the racing itself. So I think all the points that were discussed in GPDA meetings and so on were all very good and we had a good agreement between drivers on which direction to move.

KM: On refuelling, I think it wouldn’t only help on the weight issue, I think that shouldn’t be the only thing about it because the cars need to be lighter anyway, refuelling or not. It would also make a bit more possibilities of strategy and a bit more variation in strategies rather than always a one-stop and so I can’t see any negatives but if we do introduce it back then I hope that it’s not an excuse to then keep making the cars heavier because even though it comes back, it would help the weight issue in the race but they still need to not make them heavier.

LS: I think that there are other priorities at the moment that we need to think about to improve the racing. I don’t think lighter cars will… is the main fix. I mean refuelling could be exciting in many ways, maybe not, maybe it won’t change anything but I think that there’s bigger things to focus on like aerodynamics, like Romain pointed most of them out: money distribution, just to make the series more competitive. Even if the cars maintain their current weight, with the much more competitive series will come much more exciting racing and that’s where we need to be focused.

Q: (István Simon – Autó Magazin) Robert, according to the Hungarian Grand Prix organisers they are expecting some 35-40,000 supporters from Poland for this weekend, which is like one third of the whole capacity of the Hungaroring. Robert, could you please tell us what kind of motivation does this support give to you, not only for this race this weekend but since the beginning of your whole career which started here in 2006?

RK: Yeah, for sure it is kind of our home race, as Hungary is the closest race track to Poland and I think it’s not a surprise that there will be a lot of Polish fans here, which is always nice. Of course I would like to pay them back for their support with a good performance but I think this will be quite difficult, looking at the season up to now. But still it’s great to see such big support, not only in Formula One, they have been around also when I was rallying, when I was doing some other racing series so yeah, always good, and hopefully they will enjoy their weekend.

Q: (Tom Richtr – Sport TV) Romain, it’s the middle of the season and the last race in Germany was also a difficult test for the new race director, Michael Masi. At least from our perspective, some great decisions such as wet standing start or his comments towards Lewis Hamilton spinning behind the safety car, what is your view as a director of GPDA on a more relaxed approach, maybe? Or what is the general feeling in regard to co-operation with Michael Masi’s first half year?

RG: I think he stepped into big shoes – I don’t know if you say that in English – but Charlie was a big part of Formula One for a very long time and replacing a role of Charlie was not easy. I believe he’s done a good job. Personally I’ve been happy with what he’s been doing. I think the standing start in Germany was a good idea. It’s great to see the conditions and then when you think they are OK to go for it. I haven’t seen his comments on Lewis spinning under the safety car. They were tricky conditions. We know the cars don’t have a big operating window so when it’s starting to rain and you’re on slicks you are obviously not in the operating window. I spun just doing the switches on my steering wheel. I think everyone pretty much spun in that race at least once so I guess it was difficult but generally – I don’t know what the others are thinking – but I think he does a good job and listens to us. He’s well on board and (has) a new view on Formula One because he hasn’t been here for a very long time and sometimes it’s good to have new eyes on (it).

Q: Anybody else have anything to add on the job of Michael Masi? No? OK, next question.

Q: (Bart Van Dooijweert – Question to all drivers about the pit stop record last weekend set by Red Bull with 1.88s: can you tell me how much effort your team puts into a quick pit stop and do you think it’s possible to do it even quicker than 1.88s?

LS: Yeah, that’s very impressive and yes, that’s something that the team puts a lot of focus on. It’s a very important part of the race, important part of the strategy so we’re always trying to go quicker. I have a lot of confidence that our guys can go quicker than that.

KM: Yeah, it’s pretty impressive, I would say, 1.8s but what you really want is consistency and yeah, it’s fine to have a 2.5s stop if you have it every time. But impressive.

DK: Yeah, I think they are consistently under two seconds now so it’s impressive and incredible to see how the machine… I guess it’s a combination of them together with machinery, how they work. It’s great to see and for sure it’s a lot of hard work but everyone in the paddock works hard to make those pit stops as fast as possible, I think, so it’s impressive what levels they reach.

RG: Yeah, pretty much the same. I think it’s a new reference in terms of every team is going to try to go as fast as they can and reach that level of performance, because obviously half a second in the pits can be a position on track and much more at the end of the race.

RK: Well, I think we are in good shape in that; already the second positive thing after engine power is our pit stops. If we would be judged by our pit stops we would be fighting with Red Bull for the championship but unfortunately they are fighting for winning races, we are ending up races lapped most of the time, but it’s a good thing. I think everyone is trying to balance – as Kevin said – performance against the risk. Actually our guys are doing it very fast quite regularly so it looks like that on this point we are pretty on it, so let’s focus on the others.

Q: (Luke Smith – Crash.Net) Dany, you said after the race in Germany that you felt that you’d sent the message that you can fight at the front of the field on a more regular basis. If an opportunity were to arise with the senior Red Bull team next year, would you feel ready to return?

DK: I think this kind of thing is decided by the management of Red Bull so it’s better to address these questions to them. At the moment I am driving for Toro Rosso but long term I want to be fighting for podiums and wins but right now the situation is that I am a Toro Rosso driver and the bigger decisions will be made by Red Bull management in the future.