Thursday, 26 September 2019

FIA Drivers' Press Conference: 2019 Russian GP.

DRIVERS – Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Lance STROLL (Racing Point), Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Alfa Romeo), Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas)


Q: Dany, if we could start with you please. Home race, tell us about the build up, how busy have you been?

Daniil KVYAT: Well, yeah, not too busy. It’s a back-to-back race with Singapore so pretty much arrived to Moscow for one day, got a little break, and then here on Wednesday. Had a bit of an event yesterday evening, you know, the usual stuff at the home grand prix and yeah, today just a bit busier than usual, but it’s always a pleasure for your home grand prix, so it’s OK.

Q: Tell us about the reception you got from the fans when you arrived here in Sochi?

DK: Well, I haven’t seen too many fans yet, but we’ll see tonight during the autograph session. Yes, I was doing the track walk and a few people definitely were quite excited. I think people love Formula 1 here and it’s quite good to see for me. I hope to see a lot of people in the grandstands on Sunday and Saturday, it would mean a lot to me. It would mean also that motor sport in Russia is growing a lot and obviously I’m happy to contribute.

Q: Now, you said after the Singapore Grand Prix that you struggled with the car. What were the issues and how confident are you that you can bounce back here this weekend?

DK: It was a specific grand prix. I mean I wouldn’t really say I struggled with the car. I skipped FP3, and then in quali, going straight into Q1, I just maybe didn’t put the best lap in because I didn’t have much reference and once you start from there it’s harder on a street circuit. And then the race, yeah, it was a bit messy. Some moves… I was getting a bit stuck behind people when I had fresher tyres. This year it was usually good for me and then in Singapore maybe it wasn’t so good. My mirrors were foggy, so I couldn’t really fight with people properly. The race was just difficult to be honest. We had contact with Kimi, but by that point my race already wasn’t looking very good. But I was still in contention for maybe a point, but yeah, it was a difficult race. Sometimes they happen and sometimes they are necessary.

Q: Thanks and good luck this weekend. Lance, a big update package for Racing Point in Singapore, how effective was it?

Lance STROLL: Yeah, it’s still early days. I think on paper they looked quite positive, we were quite competitive throughout the weekend. Qualifying was a struggle on my part, with gaps and stuff in Q1. So we had a bad qualifying on Saturday but then in the race the pace looked better. Yeah, it was just a messy weekend overall for both cars. Sergio had a technical issue in the race and we had to stop him. I was looking good up until I clipped the wall in my second stint and I got a puncture. It was a messy weekend but I think there’s still a lot to come. The early signs are good with the upgrade, things are looking good, but it’s about unlocking it to its full potential.

Q: You say the early signs are good, but where is the car better with this upgrade?

LS: It’s just general grip. Rear grip is much better, stability is better, and now it’s just about getting the right balance with this new upgrade and that sometimes takes a weekend and Singapore is a unique circuit, it’s one of a kind, so I’m looking forward to this weekend and the coming events.

Q: Now, you’ve been involved in some great on-track battles this year. Tremendous last lap in Singapore with Grosjean, Sainz and Ricciardo. How much are you enjoying those battles?

LS: Yeah, it’s always fun. Unfortunately at that stage in the race we weren’t in a position to score points. It’s always fun though. Wheel-to-wheel racing is always good and this year in the midfield it’s so tight. We’ve seen a lot of good fights and close racing in the midfield, so I’m sure it’s very exciting for the fans. But unfortunately our race was kind of done at that stage. It was really done after I clipped the wall and I got that puncture. It was exciting and I’m sure it was fun to watch from the outside.

Q: Kevin, you have a great record here – qualified fifth last year and a lot of points finishes at this race track. Can you tell us about the track: what is it like to drive and what do you need from your car to be quick?

Kevin MAGNUSSEN: I would say it’s a little bit kind of a specific track – lots of medium-speed corners, like 90 degrees. You need a good strong front end here, but as always you need good traction as well, so it’s not that you need much of a different car to usual but it’s, I think, a pretty good track. It’s decent to drive and it offers good opportunities for racing and overtaking. I quite like it.

Q: On the subject of car performance: are you starting to make progress now and do you understand the car now?

KM: I think it’s a pretty ongoing process. It’s much more important to understand what’s gone wrong with this car than to try to come up with quick fixes. It’s not lost this year at all, but it’s better to focus for next year and try to get as ready as we can and have as much confidence in correlations and stuff like that to produce a better product for next year, rather than, in a desperate way, to try to fix this year’s car, because that’s going to be a little bit difficult. So the focus is more on different experiments with different packages to try to learn more about correlations and sensitivities and stuff like that. It’s a little but frustrating because obviously we’d all prefer to just be maximum flat out, trying to perform the best we can, which of course we are, but at the same time we are spending a lot of energy on experiments.

Q: You mention the word package there. What package are you going to be driving this weekend?

KM: The new one. That’s still part of this whole learning process, so I think Romain will stay on the old-ish one, with a few of the new parts. We’ve gone to a bit of a hybrid car to try to make it possible to swap over and swap between different parts and experiment as much as possible and get as much learning as we can. That part is going well and we are making progress in terms of understanding but we don’t see that understanding in terms of lap time. It’s hard to show in terms of lap time what progress we are making.

Q: Kimi, frustrating race for you in Singapore, different kind of street track here, with longer straights. How confident are you of having a better weekend?

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Never know really but I think it should be better for us – hopefully it is. I think Singapore, some points, it felt pretty OK, mainly not, but I think maybe our car is not the best over the bumps and things that you need for Singapore but yeah, let’s see how it comes – but I would expect to be a bit better here.

…better because of the smooth track surface or better because of the Ferrari power unit? Why do you think it will be better?

KR: Just track layout and how the surface is and everything. I might be wrong but hopefully not. Hopefully we have a bit more smoother weekend, a bit more speed.

Q: Now Kimi, this is a bit of a landmark race for you. It’s race number 307, which takes you to third overall in the most-experienced list. You’re surpassing Schumacher and Jenson Button this weekend. When you started out in 2001, did you ever imagine you’d be around for this long?

KR: Definitely not. I think I was wishing to stop much earlier. I kind of stopped it already but no, for sure not. I don’t think I had any ideas how long. Hopefully at least one or two years. Things have turned out a bit different – but I didn’t really have a plan before, I still don’t. We’ll try to go good things and as long as we enjoy it, obviously we’ll keep racing and see what happens.

Q: Given the competitive nature of this sport, do you take a lot of pride in your longevity?

KR: Not really. I mean, to me, as long as I feel myself that I can drive where I expect to be, and I can do things as I, in my head, I feel I should, then I’m happy to keep going, plus, as long as the racing is the bigger part than all the other nonsense. I don’t really think ‘Oh, I’ve done this much racing, and it's a great thing’. For me, the results are much more important than another other fact. Maybe the day you stop, and after a while when you look backwards, it means something. But right now, no.

Q: Valtteri, you have a great record here. First win, 2017, pole last year, looking good for the win until that didn’t happen. Why are you so quick here – and how much confidence does your record give you coming into the weekend.

Valtteri BOTTAS: For sure it gives confidence to come into a weekend when you know previously it’s been one of the good tracks for you, so that’s obviously a nicer way to start the weekend but always, in every case, you start from zero. Every season, every track changes a little bit, every car is always different every year, so setup, everything is different, so you’re starting from zero – but for sure, we have a good mindset coming here, knowing that it’s been good in the past. I don’t know, just since the first year coming here I’ve found a good flow on the track and haven’t really had many problematic corners or anything, so been on the pace. Obviously, there’s always things I can do better this year than last year and that will be the aim.

Q: You say you’re coming here with a good mindset but there must have been – tell me if I’m wrong – frustrations after being told by the team, to effectively hold station in Singapore last weekend in the race. What’s been said since then?

VB: Well, first of all, that was last weekend. I’m not thinking about that any more coming to this weekend. But if you want to talk about it I can’t go into details. Obviously we always review everything by the finest detail with the team, and I was at the factory on Tuesday. We had meetings about that and that we’ll keep just for us. Whatever we’ve spoken about it. We have certain rules, both ways, they’re equal. That’s how it goes but I just need to make sure I’m not going to be in that kind of situation again.


Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Daniil, you have, since Spa, a new team-mate. You live the same thing that he lived, being demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso. How long did it take for you to get back to competitiveness and how did you work on that special thing?

DK: I think it’s hard to compare – you know everyone has their own life situations and their own approach to the things, so for me it’s very hard to compare. For me, I’ve turned the page already. I have been through it, I have no problems with that any more. So, I even managed to go out and come back again to Red Bull, so I have no issues regarding that and from my side, I have full focus now on this year and on the future. So for me now it’s a closed chapter.

Q: (Beatrice Zamuner – Valtteri, now that Max and Charles are getting closer to you, they are now 31 points behind you, to what extent do you see them as threats for second place?

VB: For sure, Ferrari has been improving a lot and Red Bull is very close every weekend now, depending on track layout. So, it’s still a big chunk of points to be had for the rest of the year, so for sure I need to keep performing and we need to perform as a team to get those bigger points. I’m still aiming and focussing really ahead. Focussing on short team goals: the next one is this weekend, try to win the race. Then, at the end of the year, we’ll see if there’s still a threat or what’s happening. I’m not really thinking about that too much. I’m thinking about my performance and our performance as a team.

Q: (Dzhastina Golopolosova - The Paddock Magazine) Next year the racing calendar is expanding and by 2021 they are predicting more races. What do you think of this trend and will this increase the value of the sport?

KM: I think it’s a difficult question for me. Obviously the biggest problem is probably the team, the mechanics; all those guys are working very hard already, so it would be pretty tough for a lot of people in the team and I don’t know if it’s going to make it, each race, less valuable in terms of viewers and all that sort of stuff. Probably you can see why it would but it’s not an area I’m an expert in so I don’t really know.

VB: I think if it’s just one more next year it’s not too bad. Obviously it is, like Kevin said, hard work for many of the team members, doing so much work between the races as well. There’s going to be a limit, for sure, at some point but I don’t know in detail after how many races that would come but I think we can still do one more but we will see. It’s OK so far.

DK: Yeah, I don’t have much to say. I agree with these guys, it’s true. It wasn’t bad when it was 18 races but let’s see how it goes when the championship goes to more races. For sure we will apparently have to find the limit by touching it.

KR: No comments.

Q: Do you welcome more races yourself? We understand the pressures on the team but from a driving point of view do you welcome more?

KR: I don’t know. It depends really where we go. If we raced in Europe I wouldn’t mind but it’s obviously much easier for everybody. It’s nice to race on new tracks, hoping that they’re good ones for racing but we will see. Usually it’s a habit to keep changing races and some come and some go. We never know until we get there.

LS: Yeah, more than 22 races is probably a lot, it’s a lot for the whole team but from what I understand it’s balanced out with some testing days. It’s nicer to be racing than testing.

Q: (Vladimir Zayvyy - Daniil, according to the Daily Mail, Russian president Vladimir Putin backs a plan for the F1 race to move from Sochi to St Petersburg. What do you think about this?

DK: Yeah, I think as long as there is a racing in Russia I am up for it. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to have it closer to that region, also, where it’s more accessible to the people from Moscow, from St Petersburg, maybe it will bring more spectators which is cool, and maybe also from Europe, from Finland, let’s say, it’s a very popular sport there, it will be cool. Why not? It’s not a bad idea. Here is very nice but who knows if there it could be even better? Why not?

Q: Fans coming from Finland, perhaps a comment from one of you guys, Valtteri?

VB: Yeah, for sure, maybe we could have some more. Obviously a Finnish Grand Prix would be nice as well but maybe more Finns would be there, possibly.

Q: Kimi, what about a race in St Petersburg from your point of view?

KR: We go where the race is. I would guess that there’s Finns, I guess there’s Finns watching here, I’m sure. It’s a lot easier, for sure.

Q: (Daria Panova – Motorlat) At the Singapore Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel said that reverse grids is not a good idea for Formula One. So what do you guys think about it?

LS: I think it would be a shame to see the current format disappear. It’s very exciting, the fans love it, especially today’s Formula One.  A short, 25-lap race would be really boring to watch in my opinion. Today’s Formula One races depend on strategy which a 25 lap race wouldn’t really offer so I think it would just be a train from start to finish and that would take away some of the excitement from the sport.

KR: I think it depends on how they would do it, obviously, but probably qualifying can be more exciting than a short race. Who knows?

Q: Do you like the current qualifying format?

KR: Yeah. But if I would change, I would go back to where it was when I started: one hour of time and I think there were three sets of tyres and 12 laps, do it when you want those. Over the years, there have been many different ways of doing it. Honestly I don’t know if it really changed the entries an awful lot so…

DK: Yeah, it sounds just like a short fix to a bigger problem, which is just that we need to try and bring all the teams closer competition-wise. There’s still a big gap between the top three teams and the rest of the field and if we could have five or six teams competing for podium and a win I think it would be just a lot more exciting racing as well. Now, this year, there have been many exciting races of course but I still think that’s the main issue and if it’s a short term fix, these races, then so be it, we will have to do it of course but I think the bigger picture needs to be sorted, more than that.

VB: Not a big fan, myself, personally, about the reverse grid idea. I think it would be a real shame to lose proper qualifying. I think all the drivers really enjoy pushing the car to the limit for that one lap in qualifying. I find it really enjoyable so it would be a shame.

KM: Yeah, I agree. As Dany said, we need to try and fix the problem organically by making the competition closer and I also think qualifying is a fantastic event, so I think it’s a bad idea.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Bakkerud and Wiman joins Subaru Motorsport for final two ARX rounds.

Subaru Motorsports USA have announced that Andreas Bakkerud and Joni Wiman will join its lineup for the final two rounds of the Americas Rallycross season in Texas and Ohio.

Bakkerud will venture into the unknown having only raced at the Circuit of the Americas last year in World RX, where he finished on the podium.

The Norweigan is currently only a point behind in the World RX championship and has claimed a win at the Canadian round of World RX Championship in August which marked his seventh career Supercars victory as well as his fifth podium finish this year alone.

Joni Wiman and Andreas Bakkerud going wheel-to-wheel in Belgium
Through four rounds of the six-event 2019 ARX season, Subaru has earned three event wins and six total podium finishes, with Speed sitting first in the championship standings and Atkinson and Sandell tied for third. However, after a hard landing at Nitro RX caused a compression fracture in his spine, Speed will be forced to sit out the remainder of the 2019 campaign. 

Atkinson and Sandell will continue the championship fight for the remaining two rounds and will be joined by Bakkerud and Wiman in 600-horsepower Subaru WRX STI rallycross cars.

Finn Joni Wiman has an impressive CV in USA. He dominated the Lites class in the 2013 U.S. rallycross championship and went on to secure the 2014 Supercars title. In his return to Supercars-level rallycross this year at World RX of Belgium, Wiman earned a semifinal win and a third-place finish in the final – sharing the podium with Bakkerud.

"Having to continue the season with Scott watching from the sidelines will be tough," said Bill Stokes, Motorsports Manager for Subaru of America. "He has the team’s full support and we’re all looking forward to welcoming him back next season."

"At the same time, Andreas and Joni are two of the best rallycross drivers in the world – we’re excited to bring them in to compete alongside Chris and Patrik, and put even more top-level rallycross talent in front of U.S. fans."

Written By Junaid Samodien

EKS to start a rally team in 2020.

Mattias Ekström's championship-winning outfit EKS will start a rally team in 2020.

EKS withdrew from the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship and intended to sell their rallycross supercars. 

The 2016 World RX champion went on to sell two 2016 specification Audi S1 Supercars to JC Raceteknik, and would later rent two 2018 specification cars to Andreas Bakkerud and Liam Doran [Monster Energy RX Cartel]. While a third 2018 specification car was entered into the 2019 World RX championship under the banner EKS Sport with Hungarian Krizstian Szabo at the wheel.

In a statement, EKS confirms that their rallycross involvement will not be affected by starting a new rally team. 

"We have had a great time this year with Andreas Bakkerud, Liam Doran, Krisztián Szabó, Enzo Ide, Robin Larson and Mats Öhman, The RX Cartel and JC Raceteknik," the EKS statement said. "Andreas is in the hunt for the World RX title and Robin secured the Euro RX and Rally X titles already."

"We love to be a part of all of that and we hope to continue as a service team in 2020 and beyond, but this is also very much depending on the drivers and cooperation with especially The RX Cartel and JC Raceteknik."

EKS has begun preparations for its 2020 rallying debut and has set their first objections: "we aim to win events and championships" in 2020 and beyond. 

"We are really excited, as many EKS team members already have a big passion for rally. This will hopefully also be great news for fans, media, drivers/co-drivers, competitors and possible partners."

"It was actually in rally where the base was created of what EKS is today. The cooperation between Janne Ljungberg and Mattias started back in 1999 at Mattias’ parents’ workshop. After just two seasons having a little rally team Janne and Mattias went to DTM for some years together. During the winter break 2003-2004 a black Group-N Mitsubishi was built and this car won the Group-N class at Swedish Rally and Catalunya Rally in 2004 with Mattias and Stefan Bergman in the cockpit."

EKS will compete in some warmup events and tests in 2019 in an attempt to get up to speed. 

"We will prepare ourselves on the special stages, in the service park and we will analyze new ideas that will help us succeed and reach our goals in the future."

Ekström's team will present their plans for 2020 in December 2019.

Written by Junaid Samodien

Kevin Hansen prepares for title showdown in Cape Town.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
The stage is set for one of the most memorable title showdowns in World Rallycross Championship history with Timmy Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud and Kevin Hansen all in contention to claim their maiden championship title.

For much of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship, these three drivers have approached each World RX round with an aim of getting the best results possible.

Timmy Hansen leads the championship with 187 points. Monster Energy RX Cartel's Andreas Bakkerud is second on 186 points. While younger brother Kevin Hansen is eight points behind in third on 179 points. 

Heading into the season finale on 09-10 November in Cape Town, mental strength will be a key factor as there is a six-week break between the Latvian round and the title decider in Cape Town. 

Kevin Hansen believes that staying at the top of his game in the six-week break is really important. 

"A lot can change in six weeks, so we will make sure to stay on top of our game, drive some TitansRX and prepare ourselves for the final showdown," he said. "It's really important to keep the racing up: when everyone goes to Cape Town for Q1, they will not be as fresh and racing-minded as we will be."

"In total, with 12 qualifying starts – and hopefully four semi-finals and four finals – between now and Cape Town, we will be keeping our race game really strong."

Written By Junaid Samodien

Sunday, 22 September 2019

FIA Post-Race Press Conference: 2019 Singapore GP.

1 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)
2 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)
3 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)

(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Sebastian Vettel, welcome back, 53rd victory, it’s been over a year, that must feel sweet?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, it does. Obviously I’m a bit sweaty. No, I’m very happy. Great race. I think, first of all, big congratulations to the team. Obviously the start of the season has been difficult for us but in recent weeks I think we started to come alive. Really proud of everyone’s work back home. Secondly, I really want to thank the fans. Obviously the last couple of weeks for me have been not the best, but it’s been incredible to be honest to get so much support, so many letters, so many nice messages, yeah, people telling their own stories of when things might not go well and so on, so it gave me a lot of strength, belief and I tried to put it all into the track today, into the car and it’s nice when it pays off.

Q: Well, you know the game, you know there’s been criticism of late – this is the perfect way to answer it. Talk us through that strategy call. Now, my understanding is that lead car get the call on the pit stop, so when you saw Charles go past the pits did you drive that strategy call to come in and go for the undercut?

SV: It was a very late call. I thought it was a bit early, because I wasn’t sure that we could make the tyres last in the second stint. Obviously then I just gave it everything on the out lap because I saw the two cars in front of me not pitting, especially Lewis. I was then very surprised obviously the lap later to come out ahead. Then it’s been quite busy managing the tyres, going through traffic. I was trying to go through and slice through as quick as I could, maybe then to get a cushion and control it at the end but it didn’t work when the safety car came out. Obviously we controlled it to the end. The car was getting better and better. It was tricky at the re-starts on cold tyres but I think as first car you always have an advantage.

Q: I just want to push you on that. Did you make the call or was that your engineer?

SV: No, I was think… just the corner before, like Turn 21, the last turn before the pit entry I received the call. I don’t know if somebody pitted or all of a sudden the gap was big enough, but for me it worked today so I’m happy.

Q: Congratulations. Charles, astonishing performance yesterday, all looking great out front and then of course, just as I was asking there to Seb about strategy, that’s what undid this opportunity for you to win this grand prix. How are you feeling?

Charles LECLERC: Oh, it’s always difficult to lose a win like that but in the end it’s a one-two for the team, so I’m very happy for that. It’s the first one-two for the season. All the guys deserve it. We arrived here hoping for maybe a podium and we go back home with a one-two, so for that extremely happy. Then, of course, disappointed on my side, as anyone would be. It’s like this, sometimes it goes that way and I’ll come back stronger.

Q: Interesting that you say you came here maybe hoping for a podium. This track does sometimes throw an unusual result but do you have confidence that the issues that you had with the car prior to the summer are now resolved with the update?

CL: Let’s wait for a few grands prix but it looks positive here, a lot more positive than we expected. Quali pace, race pace was strong too, so they’ve done an amazing job.

Q: Just one more on the strategy. You were controlling the pace at the beginning, backing everyone up and there was no clear gap to drop into. How aware were you that the undercut was always going to be there as a risk and how much did that come as a surprise?

CL: Yeah, this was the strategy. The strategy was fixed at the beginning of the race. I stick to the plan. Then, at the end the most important thing is that we finished one-two.

Q: Max, well, more than maybe you expected coming into the race. Qualifying close but not quite as strong as we’ve seen from Red Bull in recent years… Third place though, you’ve got to be happy.

Max VERSTAPPEN: Absolutely. The whole race went well. Of course in the beginning it was all going really slow so everybody was very close together. Then I started to struggle a bit with the tyres so we boxed and actually that was quite a good call as we undercut Lewis at the end. From there onwards it was all about just managing the tyres home. It was a bit tricky with the safety cars at the re-starts because the tyres they get quite cold. In general happy to be on the podium. It’s always difficult to overtake here, so to do it by strategy is of course very positive. A good amount of points. A lot of things to analyse and to work on but still, happy to be in the top three.

Q: Three safety cars, did that take the pressure off physically, it was almost a two-hour race?

MV: Not really, because you have to warm up your tyres, so you’re actually working harder than when you are going flat out. It’s always going to be a tough race, especially at the end with Lewis pushing on, it was good, it keeps you going flat out until the end. It’s a good workout.


Q: Charles, congratulations, second place. A good result for you but it was decided on strategy. Tell us how surprised were you when you saw that Seb had pitted?

CL: I was surprised because obviously I was not aware in the car, but I guess if this decision has been made it was for the good of the team and it had to be the only way for us to do a one-two. So if it’s the case I completely understand it, but obviously from the car it’s very frustrating. So not completely happy but yeah, anyway the overall result of the weekend is very positive. We hoped for at least one car on the podium for this weekend and we go back home with a one-two, which we definitely did not expect on a track like this. So this is very positive.

Q: You’ve said already that you’re going to come back stronger. What have you learned today?

CL: Well, to be honest, today I don’t think I could have done much things better or differently. Yeah, the only thing probably is I will ask a bit more about the strategy around me and who is not, because I was not aware, so I don’t know if I should have pushed a bit earlier during my first stint. I don’t know, we have plenty of data anyway and I will analyse it.

Q: Max, great result for you to come home ahead of both Mercedes. Is there anything you could have done differently to have beaten one of the red cars?

MV: No. (Laughs). It’s very simple. I could make it a huge story, but no.

Q: So you’re satisfied that was as a good as it was going to be. After qualifying you said the performance wasn’t good enough. Was the car better today?

MV: It was a bit better. I think in the race I could follow, a bit. I was not in a position to attack but at least I could follow the cars ahead of me around, they never really pulled away. Of course initially it was all about tyre management anyway, so I was driving really slowly. I think we pitted at the right time, undercut Lewis, that was very positive and from there onwards it was just about staying alert with the safety car re-starts as well, but I think we managed everything quite well and I think for us after the difficulties we had in qualifying it was still good to be on the podium.


Q: (Frédéric Ferret – l’Equipe) A question to Charles. In the morning briefing for the strategy, was there a plan where the second would go undercut or the first?

CL: No, we didn’t speak about that plan so I think that will be one of the discussions too to try and understand why we didn’t speak about that situation before. But it’s impossible to go through all the possibilities in a race, all of them are unique but no, we didn’t speak about this particular situation.

Q: (Laurence Edmondson – ESPN) Charles, you said that you didn’t know that Seb had pitted. Do you think had you known that, you had the pace in the car at that time to push that little bit harder on your in-lap and make the difference and come back out on track ahead of Seb?

CL: At that time obviously the tyres were quite dead but probably before I had quite a lot of margin. In the first few laps, obviously we wanted to go as slow as we possibly could for the guys behind to not have the window to pit. So yeah, in that period I could have done a much better job but I stick to the plan and I think that’s what helped us to do one-two today – so yeah, you can always do something better but at the end I stick to the plan.

Q: Sebastian Vettel, your fifth win here in Singapore. Welcome back to the middle seat. It’s been a while. What is your overriding emotion right now?

SV: Happy! Obviously it’s been a good night. I knew that it would be tricky from where we started. I was trying to push as hard as I can at the start. It was very close with Lewis, very fair but very close, so I couldn’t really get ahead of him. And then I knew that, usually the races around here start very slow, and I knew that Charles would probably take it easy to control the race, which he did. Back in the train obviously it’s not so easy to stay close to the car in front, looking after your tyres, so that’s what I tried to do, to be able to stay with them as much as I could once they were picking up the pace. And I knew before the race that, as soon as I get my call to box, that’s when I can try to make something with this race. So that’s what I tried to do. It was very late, just last corner before the pit entry. I pushed as hard as I could on the out-lap. I think I was surprised Lewis didn’t react the lap after – but also surprised that they had such strong pace for a couple of laps. So we obviously had to clear them, and once that was done I really tried to slice through traffic as good as I could to have a bit of a cushion and maybe control the race from there. Didn’t work when the Safety Cars came but yeah, So I think the overriding emotion right now is just happy with how the night went.

Q: (Lennart Wermke – Bild) First of all congratulations Seb, it’s been a while. You were referring to some messages that you get by fans that cheered you up, directly after the race. Can you tell us what kind of messages those were and, as you’re not on social media, how did they even receive you? Did they write letters to your house or how exactly did you get the messages?

SV: There’s still a way, y’know? Obviously people were able to send messages before social media, even if that’s very difficult to imagine for some people today. A lot of little notes, handwritten letters, which… obviously if people make the effort to write something, when you find a bit of time in the evenings to go through, it’s really encouraging I have to say. Years ago, y’know, when you start its very difficult to imagine that people follow you and these kind of things but recent years, especially here, especially in Asia, I have a lot of support, a lot of fans that come over and over again. As I said, I just got a lot of energy in the last couple of weeks, just from messages that I received from the racing world, from people that I know, from a long time ago but especially fans. After Monza, and then coming here, so, as I said, people sharing their own story of when things are up and when things go down which obviously… for us everything is centred around racing but really it’s not the most important thing and, when you read through some of the notes and people’s struggles in life, some very intimate and private, you know it gets to you. It gave me a lot of belief and confidence to just keep trying. Obviously nothing was wrong in the last couple of weeks. I knew that we weren’t really far away from a breakthrough moment, sort of, but surely, you know Charles has been very strong and was right to win the last two races – but I knew on our side that we just need to keep doing our job and sooner or later things will fall in to place. So obviously I’m happy that it was rather sooner than later.

Q: (Cezary Gutowski – Przegląd Sportowy) Question to Charles. How difficult was it to keep your nerve in the car – because we heard lots of radio communications, lots of emotions. How tough was it to continue?

CL: Obviously I think during the Safety Car I was quite often on the radio. But then as soon as the Safety Car went away I focussed on the job and tried to do the best of my race. Of course, in the car it’s frustrating and then as soon as I thought a little bit more of the situation after it, then you see the things maybe a bit differently. Even though I still need some explanations just to understand fully why this decision was taken. But yeah, of course it’s always frustrating in the car because you only see your situation and you don’t see everything else.

Q: (Luke Smith – Sebastian, congratulations. To get the result after so many questions about your form and the slump that you’ve had, how satisfying does it feel to hit back and, I guess, answer your critics?

SV: Maybe less satisfying than you think. As I said about form and stuff, I don’t think there was anything wrong. So it wasn’t like we were lacking speed or anything. I think it’s much… I think I could have done a better job yesterday. Obviously recently, I think there was nothing wrong in general. Things weren’t maybe falling in place, plus obviously I messed up in the race in Monza, that’s my mistake, otherwise I think I… you know, it’s a long race and a lot of things could happen. But yeah, overall, it’s part of the game. I’ve been around now for a long, long time and yeah, it’s just how the tide turns sometimes. I have the highest expectation on myself and I’m not happy when I’m not delivering what I know I can. Certainly I had moments this year when I was struggling to just get it out. So, I know that I can improve from there, so I can’t be happy with that – but yeah, equally I know that it wasn’t as bad or disastrous as maybe then people put it together. So, I think if you’ve been around for such a long time and you’ve had so many good moments then obviously you get hammered when there are bad moments. I think that’s just part of the game.

Q: Sebastian, is there a sense of relief this evening?

SV: I’ve had that question now a couple of times. Not… yes in a way maybe it kicks in a bit later but yeah, maybe just a confirmation that if you keep doing what you do… moments where you know that things are wrong and you need to make changes but lately I didn't feel that any big changes are necessary. In that regarding it’s a confirmation but it’s not like ‘finally I can breathe again’. It’s not like I felt in a wrong and bad place. I knew that I have to pull through and go through it myself. So, yeah…

Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawke’s Bay Today) Sebastian, this time you don’t need to change around the number one and two signs although Charles might differ on that. But just building on from that, was this a team victory or more like a personal victory for you?

SV: I think you are very misled if you ever think that you are bigger than this team. I don’t think any individual can be bigger than this team. I said on the radio, the first thing is obviously this is a victory for the team because if you look at the hard facts then we came here after we got completely destroyed in Hungary. We had a minute gap between the leaders, the winners and us and coming here, similar track at least in terms of car specification, to be in a position where we were able to fight for pole yesterday and take control of the race, that’s a team success, as I said on the radio and that’s what I honestly feel. So of course you’re looking after your own race and for yourself but I think nothing can beat this team. I was very down after Monza for myself but up for the team and obviously today I’m a bit more up for myself but still very up for the team, as I said, because it was also a very positive surprise with how we were able to be more competitive here. Having said that, I think we still can do better; we must do better. Mercedes was very strong on the used set of softs once we all came in. I don’t think we had that pace in hand so there are still things we can look at.

Q: (Erik van Haren – De Telegraaf) Max, what is your overall conclusion after this weekend, your overall feeling? Quite happy about today or more of the disappointment of yesterday?

MV: Not good enough. We came here to win and clearly didn’t. Yesterday I think was worse than today but I would say it’s a little wake-up call. From Austrian onwards, it’s maybe our worst race in terms of performance, where we expected to be really good. I have a few ideas why it went wrong so we will analyse all of them and see if we can already be better in Sochi. The layout is not that amazing for us but you can clearly see if the car is working through corners or not. I think here, clearly, in too many corners the car was not working like I wanted it to. We’ll go home and see what we can do better.

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Channel 4) Charles, obviously the strategy with Seb made sense with Lewis there but once you were running one-two at the front, did you anticipate that the team might swap you back round again, as we’ve seen at other races and was that discussed on the radio?

CL: No, that wasn’t discussed on the radio. I just waited for the decision of the team, whether they thought it was the thing to do or not, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t expect anything, I just focused on the job I had to do and then waiting for them to say anything, if they had to say anything.

Q: (David Coath – Max, after the third safety car, obviously Lewis was in the DRS zone. What do you feel was the key to keeping him behind as he finished 0.7s behind you?

MV: Yeah, he was pushing hard. My tyres were going off a little bit but I think it’s quite normal. His tyres were seven or eight laps better than mine and with seven laps to go I didn’t have any problems so it really started to be with four laps to go and then you could see he was closing in so I just had to make sure I had good exits out of some crucial corners where I knew he was going to be quick. We managed to do that. I guess the people in the garage were a bit more nervous. I was just focusing on getting good exits.

Q: (Oliver Davies – sportskeeda) Sebastian, it’s just been over 391 days since your last victory in F1, roughly, but specific. How do you rank this win out of your victories in F1, because you’ve had a bit of a long wait to get back at the top?

SV: I don’t know, to be honest. Obviously I’m in a very, very lucky position to look back on so many but you always look forward to the next one. Obviously it took a while but as I said, I’m not happy if there are chances that I don’t take and obviously there were some chances, well deserved by Charles, the last weeks. Things that I should have done, could have done better but you always look forward to the next one so I’m happy for today but fairly quickly you turn the page and you want to do better the next race. It’s been like this since I started and still like this. One day maybe it’s not like this any more and then maybe it’s time to do something different, I don’t know.

Q: (Wojciech Paprota – Seb, Charles, over the last couple of minutes you said that so many things have not been discussed within the team. How would you describe the level of internal communication within the team? Is it fine, is it not perfect; how would you describe it?

CL: I think the level of how much we speak in the team is very good. Then there will always be situations that you don’t speak about, otherwise the meetings will be eight hours longer and I don’t want that. They’re already very long. I think it’s very good, the way we work but again, there will always be situations you don’t speak of.

SV: Obviously we try to speak about things in the race etc, what can happen and so on. As you might imagine, you try to get on with your job in the car but as I said previously as well, I think it’s an exception team and the team stands first. I think we aware of that.

Q: (Alex Garcia – Question to both Ferrari guys: it’s the first time since 2008 that Ferrari has won three races in a row on different tracks and we know that Singapore has a tendency to throw up the odd result but what are the implications for Ferrari coming back to the pace that you didn’t have maybe at the start of the season?

SV: Well, I’ve been around for a while now with Ferrari and I think there’s only one way for Ferrari to be back which is when we win the championship. That’s a very harsh judgement but that’s what it is, that’s the reality. We’re working very hard on that. I think this year will be very, very difficult to turn things around with the current form that Mercedes has for the last 15 races or 14 races that we did now, but we keep fighting because anything we learn this year will help us next year, so the bits we brought here obviously are positive in terms of also looking to next year’s direction, development etc. But we need more, obviously we want to be the best team, which currently we are not. The last races have been good for us so that’s great for our self confidence inside the team for everyone, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us.

CL: I really hope so. It will be difficult because I’m pretty sure that the other teams will bring some upgrades too in the next few races but it’s looking good. We’ve had two opposite characteristics of tracks in the last three weeks and we’ve been quick in both of them and I think it was quite a big surprise for us but for every one to be quick on a high downforce track like here. It’s a good thing and I hope it’s a good sign for the future.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

FIA Post-Qualifying Press Conference: 2019 Singapore GP.

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


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Charles, congratulations to you. I mean, man, that’s three out of three pole positions. Everyone expected at Spa and Monza but you’ve lifted it to another level?

Charles LECLERC: I’m extremely happy about today. If you look at the lap, it was a good lap, a very good lap, but there were some moments where I thought I’d lost the car that I took back and at the end, finishing the lap, we are in pole position. I would like to thank the team so much for what they have done. I mean, we came here knowing that it would be a difficult track for us but the team has done an amazing job to bring the package that we needed and I’m extremely happy to be on pole for tomorrow.

Q: On the back of Monza they did bring this package and it certainly revitalised this car around this track. Explains how it feels and why it is so different?

CL: Well, we brought some new bits and they worked properly, which was good to see. It’s not always the case, but it was this weekend. I’ve had a very tough Friday. Yesterday was definitely not my day; I didn’t feel comfortable in the car, but I worked quite hard and today it paid off, so very happy.

Q: All the best for tomorrow, that team is fully behind you and I hope you put a good race on. Lewis, you needed a superhuman lap after your first run in Q3 to put yourself on the front row and to put yourself in position to fight this man?

Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, I don’t know where Ferrari picked up their pace today as this is potentially not one of their tracks, but they did a great job. Charles obviously put some great laps in and it really needed something special at the end so I gave it absolutely everything I had. It was very, very close to the wall a couple of times but it was as much as I could get out of the car and I’m very, very happy to be on the front row in the mix with them so we can try to divide them tomorrow.

Q: I guess your confidence in the race pace will pay off tomorrow and this is a hard race. It’s a long one that you’ve got to be there at the end?

LH: Yeah, I think tomorrow we can be aggressive…

Q: Different to Monza?

LH: Ha! Well, it’s a street track but we’ll see.

Q: Sebastian congratulations, the crowd are behind you. I know you had a very good lap at the start of Q3 there. It slipped away at the end but I guess overall you should be satisfied?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, obviously not really with Q3 – the final attempt should have been better. Overall, the car was making sense, I was feeling good and I was able to improve run by run, so maybe I peaked a bit too early. I think the track was probably bit faster at the end. As I said obviously I had a tiny wobble, so no point finishing the lap because I was already quite a bit behind, but it puts us in a good position for tomorrow.

Q: You’ve got a lot of experience around here, you’ve won races, and you know it’s a long game. Are you feeling confident with the car you’ve got when it’s heavy and with high degradation?

SV: Well it will certainly feel different tomorrow than it did today, but overall, yes. I think it should be a good race, so let’s see what the tyres will do, if we are able to push the full two hours, or if we have to manage, but one way or another it’s always fun around here so looking forward to it.


Q: Charles, many congratulations, that looked like a sensational lap. Can you just describe that pole position lap to us?

CL: It was quite a crazy lap. The first one I compromised it. I started the lap too close to Lewis and that compromised the second sector and then I had quite a bit of pressure to perform on the last lap so I gave it all. There were quite a bit of mistakes, I lost the car quite a few times and I’ve seen myself in the wall at least twice or three times in the lap, but it felt amazing, the car was great. Friday was a very difficult day for me and to come here in qualifying and do the pole position feels absolutely amazing.

Q: How surprised are you by the pace of the car this weekend?

CL: Very surprised, because even though we knew there was a bit more to come yesterday we did not expect to challenge neither the Mercedes nor the Red Bulls. It’s quite a big surprise for the whole team but it juts proves how good a job they have done back at the factory and today it’s also thanks to them if we are on pole.

Q: Lewis, if I can come to you and maybe start with that subject. How surprised are you at the pace of the Ferraris?

LH: Well, we obviously came into the weekend knowing we would have a fight with the Red Bulls and it’s just knowing how the Ferraris have been in other places with high downforce, they’ve not been so strong – Budapest for example – and all of a sudden they’ve brought an upgrade here and it seems to have worked. Of course we were not expecting to have such a strong performance from them and to have that deficit to them. But they did a great job and I’m grateful that was able to split them – only just. But we were definitely lacking pace today, it was definitely a struggle out there to battle with them and be up there. I like how close it was between us all and hopefully that puts us in good stead for more good fights.

Q: And how was Q3 for you – quite a big jump between your first and second runs?

LH: The day has not been that great. I mean yesterday was a much smoother day for me and today was just a little bit of a… I feel like performance was lost a little bit today or else everyone else just improved. But Q3 the first lap run was so-so, didn’t feel so good. Obviously we were a second away and it looked like quite a leap to catch them up but yeah, then I just managed to pull back half a second in that last run, a nice clean run, but still just two tenths down in that first sector, which is obviously where it was lost.

Q: Sebastian, Lewis says he wasn’t pleased with his first run of Q3 but you were fastest of everyone. How was that final segment of qualifying for you?

SV: It started off very good and then, the last run, I think already in sector one, lost a little bit and was playing catch-up, and trying to take more and more risks throughout the lap which didn’t pay off. And then yeah, the last lap obviously didn’t come together. So, I think, yeah, overall it's a good result of us putting the car, y’know, first and third for the team is great. I think it wasn’t the track where we expected to be so strong, so happy with that but obviously not happy with the very end of Q3. I think the car was good today and pole was up for grasp – but let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Q: What about tomorrow? The long run pace of Ferrari versus that of Mercedes and Red Bull?

SV: It was worse yesterday but yeah, I think we were able to extract quite a bit more from the car today, so let’s hope tomorrow is more like today.


Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to Charles. Can you tell us more about the two hard moments you had near the wall and how you catch the car in that time. Where was it?

CL: I think whenever you lose the car, you don’t really know how you do it, it just comes instinctive and, yeah, these two times you are thinking about I think is exit of Turn Three and exit of Turn 11. These ones were quite big times. I was actually quite surprised I didn’t lose so much time by losing it that much but yeah, everything after that went smooth and I was just giving it all. So, yeah, it felt quite intense in the car but I’m very happy.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) To Charles and Seb, the upgrade here, how much of a difference has that made? How different does the car feel to Hungary, for example, high downforce. And Lewis, you talked about that deficit that you had in sector one. The Ferraris have been really quick on the straights this year, how ominous is it that they have picked up a bit of downforce as well?

CL: On my side I struggle to compare two tracks. It’s quite difficult but performance-wise, it seems that it’s working. I think data-wise it was working yesterday for the engineers too. I think, from Hungary to now, we’ve understood also the car better in a way that we know the balance we need to achieve in order to have the best performance and I think that has also showed in the results on track. So, I think it’s a combination of knowing where the balance needs to be and the improvements that we’ve made on the car.

Q: Sebastian, anything you can add: Hungary to here?

SV: First of all, different tracks. In Hungary, if you speak about qualifying, maybe it's the one to compare but for now, for tomorrow, we don’t know yet. I think we didn’t have such a great balance. I think some corners were very good; other corners we lost a lot. It seems like this weekend we’re not losing in those corners that we were losing in Hungary. So I think it’s mostly adding performance to the car and in the right place, so we were able to trim the balance, so that, yeah, we could extract more performance.

Q: And Lewis, how ominous is the pace of the red cars?

LH: I don’t know where they’ve picked up their pace, obviously. For a street circuit like this, earlier in the year they were not as close but they’ve obviously done a great job. I don’t really know where we’re losing it. Obviously in that first sector is a bit of a loss to us. I think some part of it is straight line but then they’ve been able to match us in the middle and the last sector, so I think just overall, clearly a big step for them and we’ll just keep pushing. We’ve not had an upgrade really for a while, so maybe when that comes it’ll help us a little bit.

Q: (Laurence Edmondson – ESPN) Another question to the Ferrari drivers. Can you explain why you were losing so much time yesterday and how much you changed today to find all that pace – because it seems like a real night and day shift between yesterday and today?

SV: Well, not that much. Obviously, yeah, yesterday we suffered with a lack of front grip, so we tried to put more front in the car. I think tonight with the temperatures dropping, etcetera, it seemed to come alive for us. I think that’s the biggest difference. In terms of spec, and so on, it’s exactly the same as yesterday.

CL: Yeah, I was not happy with my driving yesterday. I think there was quite a bit into it. It was not a great day for me. So, I improved quite a lot driving today. And, as Seb said, also the balance we improved quite a bit from yesterday to today.

Q: (David Coath – A question for each of you please. With the reverse grid proposals, you would be starting 20th, 19th and 18th. Your thoughts please on any discussion that people talk about a reverse grid.

CL: I would not be happy. I’m a lot happier to start first tomorrow but yeah, I don’t think it’s the solution for Formula 1. I think the best shall win and start in the best place and not reversing that order. I don’t think it’s the solution.

LH: I don’t really know what to say to it. People that propose that don't really know what they’re talking about.

SV: I think it’s complete bullshit to be honest. I think we know… if you want to improve things I think it’s very clear we need to string the field more together, we need to have better racing. So, it’s just a plaster. I don’t know which genius came up with this but it’s not the solution. It’s completely the wrong approach.

LH: He said it better than me…

Q: (Daniele Sparisci – Corriera della Sera) To the Ferrari drivers: when did you start realising that pole was possible? This morning in FP3 did you see the car improving so much?

CL: I thought the car was improving in FP3 but I expected Mercedes… It wasn’t a clean run for Mercedes and Red Bull this morning. We didn’t really know what to think but I think from then Q1 and then yeah, through Q1 I understood that we could have an opportunity for pole.

SV: To be honest, I think Q2 is normally when people start putting serious references in and we were about there. By then I realised that we might have a chance for pole. The car felt very good.

Q: (Oliver Davies – Charles, that’s three pole positions in a row, a fifth career pole position all in this season. Just how confident are you, how big is it, has it grown more and more each week because you’re only 21 but you’re achieving things very young? How do you feel so far?

CL: It feels great but yeah, you enjoy qualifying for a very short time because then you need to focus on the race and in the end there are no points awarded for the pole position, which is a shame. It’s great, it’s very good to see that we are on pole on a track like this where we expected to struggle but on the other hand, me personally, I’m just focusing on the race now and I will, of course, be very happy if I’m in the same position tomorrow.

Q: (Joe van Burik – RacingNews 365) Charles, how does it feel after two victories and now the pole position for tomorrow, to be the young driver everyone is looking at after Max has had his success earlier this season?

CL: Well, it feels good, it means I’m doing well so that’s good. I think a pole position always feels like very, very good, just because we are all on the limit, we are all trying to put everything in this one lap and once you manage to put everything you wanted in that lap and that you finally get pole position it always feels amazing.

Q: (Andreas Haupt – Auto Motor und Sport) Sebastian, do you feel that with a perfect lap you could have matched Charles’s lap time or even be ahead of him and what was the problem on the second lap in the first sector?

SV: Well, I didn’t do it so obviously it’s all if and so on. I think the lap time was possible so I thought the first run was good, it was a good reference but I thought that especially in sector three I had quite a bit of lap time in hand and parts in sector two. And then in the last attempt I lost the car a little bit through turn three in sector one and then again in turn nine. From that point onwards I was a little bit down compared to the previous lap and was sort of trying to catch up and probably did push a little bit too hard so simple as that. Then had a bigger mistake in 18 so from that point onwards that was quite a lot of lap time lost. As I said before, the car was good, I felt good so obviously a shame that I didn’t put together the last attempt in Q3 but I think it was there today.

Q: (Oliver Davies – A question for all three drivers: out of all the races on the F1 calendar, would you say this is probably the most brutal test out of them all, because of the conditions out there on the track?

SV: Yeh, but brutal in which regard? Physically? Well I think physically it’s tough because obviously it’s very hot and there’s hardly any place to rest. In terms of bumps, it was a lot worse ten years ago, they’ve made it a lot better throughout the years. Yeah, I think in the race it will be a different story because we have to manage tyres most likely, so it would be a lot more fun if we had the possibility to push nearly as hard as in qualifying throughout the whole race. That would be the ultimate test so tomorrow will be quite a bit easier in that regard, but still, it’s a long race.

CL: Yeah, as Seb said, physically it’s demanding but I also think that mentally it’s quite demanding because obviously being a track circuit you cannot lose any concentration and the first mistake you make you pay (for) it so yeah, I really like driving here.

LH: I feel the same as these guys. They answered it exactly the same as I would answer it.