Drivers Press Conference 2022 Sao Paulo F1 Grand Prix
DRIVER GROUP 1: Sergio Pérez (Red Bull), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), Alex Albon (Williams)
Q: Sergio. Can we throw it back to last weekend? First of all, you attended the official launch of the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend. What was it like? What was your standout memory?
Sergio Pérez: Yeah, it was a great weekend. It's great to see how the fans are looking so much forward into it. Things didn't go that well in the casinos, so not very nice memories, but other than that everything was really cool. Really happy, you know. I've been in Vegas many times before, so it was a very enjoyable, short visit. And yeah, just looking forward. I think it's going to be the biggest event in the world next year.
Q: Very exciting indeed. Now, let's bring it onto this weekend. First thing I wanted to ask you was about your helmet design. Tell us tell us about it?
SP: Yeah, it's nice. We're doing a collaboration with Disney for the Black Panther movie, which represents a lot, in the movie, a lot of my country. And the helmet itself, it's unique, and I really, really liked it.
Q: OK, and what about your chances this weekend here at Interlagos. You've had a win, a second and a third in the last four races. So what are your expectations here?
SP: Yeah, we just want to keep the momentum going. Mexico, we had too many issues on the weekend. I really thought that a much better result was on the cards. So hopefully it can be a clean weekend with no issues and we can show the true pace that we've had for the last few races.
Q: Alright, and Checo this is the last time that you're going to be in the FIA pre-race press conference this year, with just one race to go. How would you sum up your second year?
SP: Why is that?
Q: Because in Abu Dhabi, you'll be doing the TV pen.
SP: I thought it was looking better than that. Sorry!
Q: So my question to you is: how would you sum up your second year with Red Bull Racing?
SP: Yeah. Certainly it started really well. Some reliability issues in the beginning, but things were looking on track. We were in the mix for the championship early on. Certainly I had a couple of bad races that really put me off contention for the championship, so there is some work to do in that regard together with the team to make sure that we can keep that consistency throughout and that we can come back next year and fight for the title. If we were to have a similar level of car for next year. So yeah, it's important that we finish our season on a high so that we can come back next year and start strong throughout the season.
Q: OK, thank you for that. Carlos, coming to you now. Some sad news to begin with. Mauro Forghieri, Ferrari’s legendary technical director from the ‘60s and ‘70s passed away last week. What do you think is Mauro’s legacy?
Carlos Sainz: Well, first of all very sad news, and obviously my condolences to the whole Ferrari family and his family and close friends. Yeah, very sad. You can imagine: 11 titles with Scuderia Ferrari are a lot. He's been an incredible part of the legendary name of Ferrari, you know, and building all those titles. He was very loved inside the family. So he will be dearly missed. And in order to commemorate him, we will have a sticker on the car this weekend. So we will try and make him proud.
Q: OK, thank you for that Carlos, and bringing it on to the here and now, here in Brazil. It was a slightly disappointing race for the team in Mexico but we're at a slightly lower altitude here. Do you think you'll be more competitive as a result?
CS: Yeah, we believe Mexico should be a bit of a one-off. We've never been so far off the pace in the dry all year. So I think it's quite clear that we didn't get it right in Mexico. It doesn't matter if it was the engine, the car balance, tyres, whatever, there was clearly something that wasn’t working. And now we focus on Brazil and Abu Dhabi, important last two races before the end of the season where we want to get the pace back. We want to get back to fight on the podium with Red Bull and Mercedes. I think it's a very interesting fight up front and keep having smooth weekends where I can learn from the car and prepare for next year.
Q: Prepare for next year, but can I ask you just to sum up this 2022 season?
CS: Yeah, it's been a challenging one, as you guys have seen from the outside. There was a challenging first third of the season where I struggled a bit with the car balance with the driving style, a car that for some reason didn't suit me straight out of the box and I had to fight through it quite a lot. And the second two-thirds I have been a lot happier with the car. I've been a lot more on the pace, but unfortunately, a lot of DNFs, a lot of reliability issues along the way. On top of that, it looks like Mercedes and Red Bull did have a better second half of the season. And it means that even though I'm up to speed with a car and I'm driving well, and I had a solid weekend, for example, in Mexico, the maximum I could get was a P5 five, no? So, a bit unfortunate in that regard. But I've learned a lot. I'm proud of the progress I've done inside the car, with my engineers, the way that we managed to turn my pace around. And yeah, I'll make sure next year we are back to being the consistent Carlos of 2021 and get good results.
Q: Thank you, Carlos. And good luck to you this weekend. Pierre coming to you. Now before we talk on track can we just discuss something that happened last week off track in London. AlphaTauri opened a store there. How was it? How was the mannequin challenge with Yuki?
Pierre Gasly: That was pretty entertaining. So it was the first store opening in the UK for AlphaTauri. So we had a bit of an activation there. It was different than what we are used to and we got the chance to choose the look for Lawrence and Will for Abu Dhabi, so they're going to be very stylish journalists out there on the race track and it was a fun activation. I mean, I always enjoy hanging out with Yuki. We had two nights in London for this specific event. So a really good time.
Q: Alright. And what about racing here in Brazil. You scored your first Formula 1 podium here in 2019. Just how do you reflect on that weekend? And how much do you enjoy this weekend here at Interlagos?
PG: I mean, it does feel like quite a while ago, already. But obviously, every year, every single time I come back to Brazil, I can straightaway relate to the emotions that I felt on that day. And yeah, it was an amazing way to get my first podium with the drag race to the line with Lewis. Even doing the track walk every single year, it just comes back. And every time we were walking up that last hill to the line, we're just discussing this with the guys and yeah, it was an incredible moment. It's always great energy to come here. I must say I enjoy the track. The atmosphere is always fantastic. The fans are really passionate about Formula 1 and show it to us and share their passion. So hopefully we can have a strong weekend this year, again.
Q: Pierre, can I talk to you about penalty points? You're now on 10 and if you get 12 you'll be forced to miss a race. How does that affect your approach coming into a race weekend?
PG: Well, I'm not going to lie, it's a very unpleasant situation and quite delicate. In some ways also a bit embarrassing to be standing in a position where I could be banned for a race after the season that I've done. I don't really feel like I’ve been particularly dangerous over these last 12 months. And that will definitely be a harsh penalty. But there have been a lot of discussions with the FIA, trying to find a solution because personally, I want to do all the races. I want to finish the season in the best way I can with AlphaTauri. I want to do all the races in 2023 and get the maximum chances to perform for Alpine. And obviously, this is a lot at stake, because no one knows what's going to happen in ’23. I could end up with an amazing car, fighting for the championship, for example. And I can't take the risk to be banned for a race and lose all my hopes for the championship. So it's a very tricky situation. I've been discussing quite a lot with the FIA to try to find solutions because the way the regulation is written at the moment, it's quite strict on the drivers and [there are] quite harsh penalties, even though it's not always then related to dangerous driving. And definitely the penalties has massive repercussions on the Team and Drivers’ Championships, so I do hope we're going have again more conversation today, but I do hope we can find solution ahead of the weekend to avoid to end up in a silly situation where I'll be banned for a race and that would be terrible for myself and definitely not the way that I've seen the sport growing up. And I don't think that's the correct approach. Because obviously I can't really go into next year with only two points and that risk over my head. But at the same time, at the moment, there is no clear solution. So hopefully, there can be a good plan going forward for 2023.
Q: Pierre, thank you for that. Valtteri, coming to you now. You're looking very Nigel Mansell. Can we talk about the return to the points in Mexico? Just how competitive was the car there? And were you frustrated not to come away with more than 10th?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, first of all, I think it was good to be back in the points for me. It was a long time ago that I scored last time. So even one point is for sure better than nothing. And what was positive was to see how competitive we were, especially in the qualifying, all through the weekend we were strong on single lap but in the race for sure we hoped for more and yeah, I think the tyres behaved quite differently than we expected. So the softer compound seemed to be better than what we thought and, you know, it's easy to say after the race but yeah, I think the race pace didn't quite match the quali pace, unfortunately. But like I said, it's positive. We have a better pace now than some time ago.
Q: And with it being such a tight battle with Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship, do you welcome the fact that this is a sprint weekend? More points on the table?
VB: Yeah, for sure. We try to take the opportunity. Now, with the recent upgrades we definitely have found a bit more pace. So we're hopeful that we can be competitive here and score points because it is getting pretty close with Aston, only two go so and you know, for us, either being sixth or seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, it actually makes a difference. So hopefully it's a good one.
Q: And just to sum up this year, you're first with Alfa Romeo. How do you reflect on it?
VB: Up and down. We started really strong, then we suffered with quite a few reliability issues and some bad luck as well. And some teams were able to maybe out-develop us a bit, in a way. But I think recently we've been able to gain some momentum. In the end, it is a long-term project. We're focusing for the years ahead, and for the years ahead of us we see we can make good progress. So overall positive if we look at where the team comes from in the last few years.
Q: Alright, Valtteri. Thank you, and best of luck this weekend. And Alex, thank you for waiting. Your thoughts on the Last Vegas launch last weekend?
Alex Albon: It was very cool. I didn't have a show car with me, so I couldn't have too much fun. But otherwise, it was a really cool event. I was really surprised to see how many people actually turned up for the event. It was huge. So yeah, as Checo said, I think it's going to be a good one next year.
Q: And what about here? The car seemed more competitive at high altitude in Mexico than perhaps the team was expecting going into that race. So what are your hopes for here?
AA: Yeah, you’re right. I feel like we came out of the weekend, thinking… Well, let's say we did a better job than we expected. So it's kind of how it goes. You never really know, even with these cars still, with two races to go, where you are going to be in terms of the ladder of performance. So I'll go into this weekend, same as always, I actually get more confused every time, every race weekend, where we are, but I think we can go into this with some optimism and let's see what happens.
Q: And Logan Sargeant is driving your car during FP2 on Saturday. How's that going to disrupt your preparations for the sprint race?
AA: For sure, it will have a small effect on it. It's better to lose FP2 here than FP1 just the way that qualifying is obviously on the Friday. I think generally speaking, it should be fine. The main concern is obviously if it's wet on Saturday and it's dry on Friday, then there might be a bit of learning to do in the Sprint race. But yeah, that will be some fun.
Q; And Alex, when you look at this season as a whole, where do you feel Williams needs to make the most progress going forward?
AA: I think we know where we need to improve. It's a lot of it's down to getting the right balance and it's a common feedback from Nicky and myself that we just need to be able to drive the car in the way that we want to a lot of times. We feel a little bit constricted by the car in certain types of corners. You know, it's one thing knowing what we need, it's another thing fixing it. So a lot of the time, I’m already talking about midway through this year, has been spent on making sure that the development for next year goes in the right place and we're making sure we, I guess, leave no stone unturned. So that's it. Obviously, right now, we're still busy in the simulator and making sure that we are going in the direction that we think we need to go in.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Valtteri, as you're back in the points again. Alfa Romeo have been in the top six in the championship ever since Bahrain? What's better, looking ahead to next year, finishing sixth or finishing seventh? Getting the extra money for finishing sixth or finishing seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, where you get 100% of your wind tunnel time for what should be better development throughout the year?
VB: Good question. I think you should ask Fred! Obviously, there are pros and cons. And yeah, I think it is the fact that we're not quite fully at the budget cap. And we could do with some more cash. So for sure, that would help. Actually, how much is the difference with the windtunnel time? Yeah. For me, it's hard to calculate. I don't know the number in detail. I think still we're pushing to be sixth and to take the money and use that for quite a bit of development. And driver salaries!
Q: Carlos, we could throw this at you as well. I mean, Mercedes are just 40 points behind you guys in the Constructors’ Championship now – P2 to P3?
CS: I think we would take P2. I think these kinds of things, I think they should prioritise the position in the championship, no? If not, we wouldn't be fighting for positions in the championship. I think the competition is the number one priority and finishing ahead of your competition should always be more satisfying than finishing one position behind and then not getting the wind tunnel or the money. So I hope the rules are also designed that your main motivation is to finish ahead. If not, I wouldn't understand it.
Q: (Lucas Santochi – Projeto Motor) For all you guys. We're near the end of the season. We have been at all the tracks. What are your conclusions about the new regulations now that you have been driving at all the tracks. Formula 1 got it right? Does it still need some tweaks? Did it really change the racing for you guys?
SP: I think it's good to have so many races, especially for next year, it will be interesting. And yeah, we'll see. We'll see. I think generally, São Paulo, it's always a good race track, especially for Sunday, it has been always really enjoyable, the racing.
CS:I think Formula 1 got it right in principle. And in general, I think these new cars have allowed us to race closer, to be able to overtake in places and corners or in circuits where before it was always more difficult. So I think the racing is more exciting. I think the field spread is still relatively big, but as soon as these regulations stabilise I think we are all going to converge and the championship is just going to keep getting more and more interesting with the passing of the years and the races. I think it's been the right direction.
PG: Yeah, I think overall it's been positive, I agree with Carlos. I think in terms of racing, we've seen more overtakes. In terms, driving-wise, it seems like it's easier for us to follow on some tracks. So definitely on that side, I think they've been providing and improving the sport. On the other side, looking at all the podiums this year, and only seeing Lando managed to make it to the podium only once, apart from the top three. Personally, I was hoping that we could see a bit more variety in the finishing order, like in the top finishing orders, with maybe more midfield teams getting the chance to fight for podiums. So hopefully, this is something that can improve over the next couple of years and get the field closer together, have more teams fighting for podiums. You will always have one or two dominant teams, but at least hopefully with gaps not big enough not to give opportunities for the midfield to be in contention for podiums. So, I think that was one of the big targets. Hopefully with the windtunnel time etc, over the years, it's going to, as Carlos said, merge towards a similar performance for most of the teams which, as a driver, will be the best for all of us to give us the chance to fight at the top.
VB: I also feel like it's been all positive and the direction is right. And like Pierre said, I think in the years to come, we will see it's hopefully going to get closer. That's what we all hope and in theory, that should be the case. So overall, yeah, I'm really, really happy.
AA: No comment, same as everyone else.
Q: (Guilherme Longo – Motorsport.com) My question is for Pierre, there is only one week left in the season. Are you planning on joining the Abu Dhabi post-season test with Alpine?
PG: We're discussing about it and any if that's possible, that will be the case.
Q: (Ana Paula Verveira – Lance!) To Carlos, you recently said that you want to fight with Max in 2023. Did you feel that it was possible this year and why you need to change to do it next year?
CS: Clearly this year, it wasn't, because I'm very far from him in the Championship and the way that he has performed in combination with Red Bull, they've been just the faster package: the quicker car; the quicker driver. I do feel like with a perfect year, it should be possible but we will need to be perfect next year. And we will need to improve the car. I will need to improve, especially in the first half of the season and in the races. So that is the target – and you need to put high targets to yourself and onto the team like this. You can try and accomplish them. And then let's see what life brings next year to the table.
Q: (Luana Marino – Grande Premio) Checo, in this moment, do you see yourself in the best moment of your career in Formula 1, fighting for the second place in the Championship?
SP: I'm constantly working on it. And I think it really depends on how comfortable I am at the start of the season with the car, as I was in the beginning of the season, then it slipped away. So I think as Formula 1 drivers, we are constantly working for new challenges, you know, all the time. But I do feel at this time I'm pretty much at my best. And yeah, I really want to carry it on for the last two races and start next year on a very high.
Q: (Patricia Tarquijo – Motorlat.com) Question for Carlos. How much have you learned as a driver this year in terms of adapting and changing your driving style following such a difficult start of the season? Thank you.
CS: Yeah, I think in that sense, it's been the year that I've learned the most since 2015. That was my first year in Formula 1. So then I had tougher and easier years but never such a challenging year as 2022 where I found myself in a position where I was driving with this car, I was constantly off the pace in the first five, six races, and I had to fight a lot to change some things in my driving, some things on the car, try to get the car a bit closer to my liking but also, stop having some muscle memory on the way I drive and reset a bit the way I was driving, and it took a long time. But then, at the same time, as soon as it happened, I felt like I had done a big step forward as a driver in my skills, in my development, and I had learned a load. And this is probably the part of the season that I feel more proud of, because I think it would have been very easy with such a tough start to give up on the season and wait for another car to see if I was more competitive, but I didn't give up on it. I kept pushing. And even in these last few races, I'm still trying different stuff. I'm still trying different ways to drive, different ways to set up the car and I could do in progress. So it leaves me optimistic about next year.
Q: (Carlos Costa – Motorsport.com) Carlos, last time we talked about, I think it was 2019, I asked you about Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr, Real Madrid players, I know that you are a Real Madrid supporter. I would like your thoughts about them going to the World Cup. And also after the Champions League triumph as well.
CS: Well, two great players that have done a lot for Real Madrid in the last couple of years. I text Vini now and then – we're on Instagram, and he's become a fan of Formula 1 and I'm a big fan of Real Madrid. I think they're going to be strong in the national team for Brazil – though maybe I don't want them to be so strong because it will make life very difficult for Spain. But they are two great players: super young, with all the life ahead of them. So I wish them the best and keep being so good, especially for Real Madrid.
What about Spain?
CS: Spain, I think we have good chances because Spain always, since we won the World Cup back in 2010, I think we've always played well. We are very loyal to our way of playing and always tried to play good football. I think we have a great amount of young talent in the team. Will this be enough to win the World Cup? I have no idea. Because then it depends on that month, how the players are feeling. But I like our chances and I will be supporting Spain as much as I can.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Carlos. It's another question for you. You were talking about next year and your optimism about hopefully taking the fight to Red Bull. Given the stability and the regulations and how competitive and how dominant Red Bull have been over the past eight, nine races or so how much of a challenge do you think it's going to be to overhaul Red Bull? And get ahead of them by the start of next season?
CS: I feel we have chances. I mean, Red Bull has been dominant, but they've been dominant without being clearly ahead in pace and and… yeah, pure quali pace and race pace. So I don't feel like we are so far behind in terms of car development and car performance. If you think about it, I was on pole in Austin, so it means that we were one-two in Austin in quali. So it must be that our car is actually not that far from the Red Bull. And what we need to focus on is in trying to understand next year’s tyres. See how we can be quicker in the race because it's clear that the Red Bull is particularly quick in the race compared to us. And for the strategy, race execution, tyre management, that's another step that we want to take next year that we are already working on it. But in terms of pure performance, we are not far. We just need to put on a bit more power and a bit more downforce in the car and we're going to be at the same level or faster. So let's hope that we can do that.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC) I just wanted to ask the other four drivers in the press conference, what they thought of Pierre’s situation on the penalty points. Do they have sympathy with him? Or do you think that the system needs reviewing? Thanks.
AA: Definitely. I mean, I'm quite high up there as well and I completely agree with Pierre. I think, just to give some context to it. I think I have three points on my licence, and they're down to track limits, which is something which is not dangerous at all. I'm not harming any other driver or myself in that situation. I think I've got another two points for collision with Stroll in Jeddah, which I think at the end of the race, we, as drivers we deemed wasn't my fault. So, there are a lot of points on my licence, which I don't think I deserved. And I think… we are discussing it, I think there is going to be a change. It's obviously… Well, firstly, we've already got the points on our licence. So what happens then? Because even if we do make steps forward into next year, do the points that we just got for previous races, do they stay on or whatever? So, I think, yeah, we do need to do something about it. And I don't think any of us are dangerous drivers. But I do understand, of course, you should punish drivers if they do dangerous things, but I think a lot of the points that everyone has right now aren't because of dangerous things.
VB: I think there's already been good discussions. And I think it's better to keep it internal. But from my understanding, there will be some changes made for the future, because for sure, some of the things that these guy's been getting the points, it's not dangerous. I think the points should be only given when it's really dangerous and can be harm to yourself or somebody else on track. So, I think we will see progress being made but I don't think Pierre would deserve to be in that kind of situation on the edge. But that's the rule now, but the main thing is how we act with that in the future.
SP: It will be good for Pierre to miss a race! No, I definitely feel like there are things that are not even related to his driving. And we get points for that. So I think what it's not related to bad driving or mistakes, there shouldn't be a penalty and it will be really bad if he ends up losing a race for that.
DRIVER GROUP 2: Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
Q: Lance, we're going to start with you. Tell us about your racing car after some good races the pace of the car dropped off a bit in Mexico. What have you learned since that race? What were the issues last time out?
Lance Stroll: Yeah, I think Mexico was just a tough weekend for us. We were just really not competitive from the beginning of the weekend. But when I look back at the races, before Mexico, I think we were, you know, quite strong. Thinking back to Austin, before we had our issues, we were running P3 for a while. And then in Suzuka, we had good pace as well. So, I think the car since the summer break has been strong at many events, stronger since the beginning of the season, I should say. But yeah, Mexico for whatever reason was, was really, really difficult for us. So, I think we learned a lot. Hopefully, we come back here stronger.
Q: Did the altitude affect the car last time out?
LS: The altitude is the same for everybody. So, I think it's… I mean, more than that, I think we definitely understood some weaknesses of our car and things that we have to think about and improve definitely next time we go back to Mexico, but I just hope we can get back on form this weekend.
Q: So what about here? Do you think it will be better? I mean, we're at 800m as opposed to 2000m.
LS: I hope so. I mean, you know, it's a different track layout. And yeah, the altitude’s a little bit different, but we'll have to see. I mean, yeah, we’ll have to see.
Q: What about this battle in the Constructors’ Championship? You're just four points of Alfa Romeo now, can you rein them in? What are you feeling?
LS: Yeah, I mean, I think it's all about having, you know, clean races. I mean, when I look back at the last few races, I think we missed out on opportunity of points, like in Austin, both cars were doing, you know, well, and I had a you know, crash and then Seb had a pit stop issue. So we lost a lot of points there. And, you know, I think it's really just about being competitive. And then, if we're fast and competitive, it's just about capitalizing and, you know, scoring points. But if we have, you know, pace like we did in Mexico, it's obviously going to be challenging, but if we have, you know, better pace, and we're competitive, then it's just about capitalizing on it.
Q: And Lance, when you look back at this year as a whole, what do you think you and the team have done well, and where do you think there's room for improvement?
LS: Well, I think we really struggled at the beginning of the year, I think we were, you know, far off the pace at the beginning of the year, but the guys have done a great job, improving the car. You know, we introduced a new package in… was it Barcelona? That was kind of the beginning of change. And then from there, I think we've developed the car a lot throughout the year. And like I said, since the summer break, I think we've been in a much more competitive position, we went from, like, constantly being, you know, I mean, most of the time out of a position to score points on pure pace. And then since the summer break, we've often been in positions to score points. So, I think the guys have done a great job at improving the car. We've definitely, you know, I think made big steps in the right direction. And it's just about… yeah, it's about keeping on going in that direction, really, in the future.
Q: Esteban, coming to you now. So how much do you look forward to racing here in Brazil, and particularly here at this track? Because points last year. And then of course, anyone who remembers 2017 will know that it was your only retirement of that phenomenal season. So you've had a bit of both. Just tell us about your thoughts coming in?
Esteban Ocon: Yeah, I had a bit of everything here. Mixed emotions, for sure. But it's one of the tracks that we all enjoy, you know, coming in. It's such a legendary track, there are some corners that you don't find anywhere else. And the grip on the wet back in 2016 is extraordinary. So it's… yeah, I mean, I really enjoyed this track is probably the track that I spent the most time on gaming when it was COVID, so I was looking for massively to come back in 2021. And, yeah, we're going to be racing two times here this weekend, so it's going to be great.
Q: And what do you need from your car to be quick?
EO: Well, I think this weekend is all about getting ready. And getting on top of all the little issues, getting the confidence early in FP1, because it's the last time we're able to touch the car. So yeah, getting a clean FP1. And, you know, picking up pace through quali is going to be key. The rest of the weekend is then a lot easier.
Q: Now, what about this battle with McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship? You guys are just seven points ahead of McLaren. Can you relax?
EO: No, not at all. It's been a very long season. A lot has happened. But it's not time to relax. We will relax after the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi. Yeah, it's going to be tight until the end, of course. McLaren were quick in Mexico and they tend to be quick, you know, through the year. We had our ups and downs as well. But hopefully, this weekend is going to be up.
Q: As you say, it's been a long season, just how do you reflect on 2022 as a whole? What the team has done well and where you think you still need to improve for next year?
EO: Yeah, I think it's been a good season, from where we started. You know, we were obviously looking at trying to improve the car, trying to get more pace out of it. And we clearly developed extremely well, during the season, a long time in the season as well. And all the upgrades that we were bringing were massive steps in general. And this is still what we need to keep going, for next year. We are still not in the position to be in the top five all the time, but we've touched it at times. And this is what we need to keep going more consistently.
Q: Kevin coming to you now. I feel that Haas had a similar tale to Aston Martin, in a way, last time out in Mexico. Very strong in Austin, and then a disappointing weekend in Mexico, what have you learned since the race about the performance of the car?
Kevin Magnussen: I don't know. You know, Mexico, it’s a weird one. I think for us, it was more not being able to get the most out of the tyres in Mexico. It is, of course, high altitude, thin air and that has an effect on what kind of set-up you've run and, you know, downforce level. And I don't know if that affected us more than other teams. Certainly we weren't very strong. And, yeah, it's hard to know what you can learn from that, really. But hopefully, it's going to be a different story. And, you know, we scored points in Austin. So you know, it shows that it is still possible to score points. Although, you know, we have kind of fallen behind some of these guys that we were fighting with more in the beginning of the year, but it's still possible to score.
Q: Talking of altitudes, this race track is at a similar height to the Red Bull Ring, where of course, you had a pretty good weekend.
KM: Yeah, I don't think that the altitude is really what makes the big difference. It's always, you know, little details and the sum of all those details that makes it good or bad performance. So yeah, I don't think you can put it down to altitude.
Q: What about this race in Brazil? You've said that this is a track that you love. What makes it so special?
KM: The history, I think. It's just like, when you come here there's so many kind of, you know… I remember watching so many races as a kid on this track. And it was always the last race of the season, at least when I was watching as a young boy, and a lot of great races have been here. And of course, all the history with Senna as well. And the Brazilian fans are always super enthusiastic. I just feel like it is a special place. The track is also great to drive. It's a little sort of go-kart track feeling. Yeah, always love coming here.
Q: And what about the season as a whole, Kevin? How would you sum up your return to Formula 1 with Haas?
KM: Yeah, it's been a real journey. Of course, at the beginning of the year, we were really strong. Started the season in Bahrain with P5. And, you know, that was a massive surprise, I guess, because the team had been struggling for two years and then to hit the road like that in the first race was pretty cool. And then, of course, we had a very strong first half of the year. I think some of the other teams, like Alpine and Aston Martin, have kind of developed their performance more than us. But you know, there's no reason that we can’t catch up over the winter and start again like we did next year.
Q: Talking of the winter, there’s not going to be much downtime for you after Abu Dhabi, because you’ve got the Gulf 12 hours coming up a couple of weeks later. Done any testing yet? What can you tell us about that race?
KM: We're going to get a few laps in the car before going to Abu Dhabi with it. But of course, it's something that I'm really excited about. Racing with my dad is always something that I enjoy a lot. It's such a special thing that we're still both active racing drivers at the same time. He's not that old so I feel like I have to grab the opportunity, as much as I can, while he's still in good shape and fast. So it's the first time that we're going to drive in a GT car together and I think he's going to be pretty hard to beat in that one. But we'll see.
Q: Max, do you fancy something like this with your dad?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, I want to, but he doesn't want to at the moment, so I need to convince him. He's fully into rallying. I hope, of course, in the coming years, we can do that.
Q: Now talking of extra-curricular racing activities, while everyone else was resting last weekend you went racing in the virtual 6 Hours of Spa. How did that go?
MV: It was quite eventful, to be honest. Can we skip that! Yeah, it was OK. But I had a moment in Eau Rouge.
Q: OK. Not a small moment, then.
MV: No. It was quite a big moment. It happens.
Q: Let's bring it on to here. Tell us what you enjoy about racing in Brazil. You've won here before. You've had three other podiums. Just how special was that win back in 2019?
MV: Yeah, honestly, it's an amazing track. There are not many corners, but it's just the shape, the camber of the corners, just the whole atmosphere, of course, around here – the history, the fans here, they love Formula 1, there's a lot of passion that really goes into it, so I think we all love coming here. And of course, winning was an amazing feeling but even not being on the podium, in general, you know, it’s always super nice.
Q: What about win number 15 of the season this weekend?
MV: Yeah, I think we have a good chance, of course. The car’s quick and I think this track normally should be good for us. So I'm excited and of course, I'll try to win.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft - Sky Sports F1) Max, it’s a Sprint weekend, which normally is quite good for you. You like racing, you like winning, and you've been doing that at the Sprints this year. But I've read some quotes that you weren't overly chuffed with the sprint format, you didn't really fancy it too much. So I just wonder if you could expand on that? What is it about the sprint weekend format that you don't like and that you'd rather not be doing?
MV: Yeah, honestly, I'm just not a big fan of it because I feel like we don't really race because there are a few points that you get, right, but you also know that you can't really risk it because the main race is where you really get the points. You don't do a pitstop so you just put on the tyre which will last the distance. With these cars probably the racing is a little bit better but overall you don't really see a lot of overtaking unless there's a car out of position. So then, yeah, it's not really that fun for me. Of course everyone has their own opinion, right? Just for me it's not that fun. I do like the one practice and then straight into qualifying. I don't mind that because it's less practice for everyone to get fully up to speed and you need to really nail the setup so that's okay, but yeah, I always feel a bit that when I go into a Sprint race that you're not really risking a lot and just wanting to play safe.
Q: Kevin can I get your thoughts on this? Max doesn't race because he's always out front!
KM: Must be really boring! No, I kind of like it. Max has a good point that the risk that you want to take in sprint is less because it decides your position for Sunday, so I think maybe a good tweak could be to separate that, so you can go for it. I do enjoy going from practice one straight into qualifying as well because as Max said, it puts a lot of pressure to find a rhythm quickly and get the set-up right. So I feel like when there's three practices, it's quite a lot. So anyway, yeah, I kind of like it.
Q: (Fred Ferret – L’Equipe) Max, to elaborate on the previous question, are you thinking about talking with the other drivers about changing the format of the Sprint races? And would you like to just have a Saturday, which would be disconnected from the qualification and the race?
MV: Yeah, maybe. I honestly didn't think about it. I know that, of course, it will be six next year, We can come up with things to discuss if we want it in a different way but yeah, maybe to make it a bit more exciting, at least for me, but we'll see.
Q: (Cleber Bernucci – San Paolo Grand Prix) My question is for you all: what's your favourite corner here in Interlagos?
LS: Turns Six and 7… 7 and 8, the long, fast right-hander, whatever the numbers are. Six, 7.
EO: I don't know the name of it but Turns 1 and 2. What was the name of Turn 1, 2. So nice. So nice. And yeah, probably also 10. Because there's no hairpin like that, that you find anywhere else really, with the camber, with braking? It's difficult. I think the elevation changes the camber, that’s what makes this track so good.
KM: Yeah, I would say Turn 1, 2 as well, Senna ‘Esses’, pretty special kind of entry. You don't really see the apex of 1 and it always looks good when people make moves there as well from the television I think, so yeah, Senna ‘Esses’.
MV: Yeah, Turn 1. Just a shame that some of the kerbs, they've been changed a little bit. I remember when I did my Friday practice here, we still had a few of them… the old kerbs, which were a bit flatter, and you could really run them like in Turn 2, Turn 8 I think it is. It just makes it a little bit more special. But yeah, we don't have them anymore.
Q: (Luana Marino – Grande Premio) Max, in the last year, we had an amazing race here, but you didn't win. Do you expect a rematch in this year against Lewis?
MV: I don't necessarily (expect) a rematch. We were just not quick enough last year. I think this year, it's completely different. The car is a lot more competitive. And yeah, I just see that there is a really good opportunity to win, so we definitely will try to.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Max, obviously in Mexico, you weren't speaking to Sky Sports. There was a bit of an issue there but it now looks as though you're taking questions. Just wondering what's changed with you and the team and you're happy to speak to them going forward?
MV: Yeah, we drew a line under it. So we just keep on going. And yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
Q: (Emanuel Novaes – Band) Felipe Drugovich is now development driver for Aston Martin and I would like to ask you how have been these first days working with him?
LS: Yeah, I got to know him a little bit over the last few weeks. He came to Austin for the first time and yeah, super nice guy, I didn't really know him before. So yeah, super nice guy, had an incredible year in F2. So yeah, I think it makes a big step in his career for sure.
Q: (Guilherme Longe – Motorsport.com) Max, prior to coming to San Paolo, you spent a few days in Brasilia. How was it? Did you talk to Nelson about the championship, got any tips from him?
MV: No, we didn't, to be honest. We don't need to talk about Formula 1. Just that it was more important, of course, also, for my girlfriend to see her family. We live in Europe, you are away from your family a lot so that was also the visit and it was nice, honestly, just super relaxing days. And you know, Brazil is a very beautiful country and a lot of different places, up north, south, here in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, so it's always nice to visit different places.
Q: (Ana Paula Cerveira – Lance!) Max, you had a really good fight with Ferrari in the beginning of the season mostly. Did you think back there that you have conquered everything that was possible to you so early this season?
MV: Well, we had a pretty terrible start to the year, so at the time, I thought we would not be able to really fight for the championship, but then things really turn very quickly and also from outside the car became even more competitive. And, yeah, it's been a crazy year for us in terms of wins. You know, it's been really, really enjoyable and something of course, I would have never imagined at the start of the year,
Q: Max, at which point in the year did you think yep, the championship is back on?
MV: It's a very good question. I don't really know, don’t remember. Soon as we just started to… I mean, the Imola weekend was very good, like we had a really strong weekend. And then, of course, the gap was slowly reducing. That's normally always a good sign, but you can't afford… at the time we couldn't afford any more retirements. Of course, the gap now is very big so we could have had retirements but at the time, after already two DNFs so early on in the year we turned it around very quickly. But honestly, I don't really remember what race I thought that it was back on but I think for us, as a team, Imola was a very important weekend, to have that kind of result.
Q: (Bruna Rodrigues – Globo TV) Max, Red Bull got a punishment for breaching F1’s cost cap. And originally you already lost time on the [inaudible] because of the championship title. Do you think these two factors could affect the team’s 2023? And was this larger loss expected in the beginning of this year?
MV: Yeah. Well, I mean, it will affect us but how much? I don't know yet. But I'm confident that the team and the people we have can use that as extra motivation to try and do even better. I know, of course, they always give their best. But we have a very competitive car, we have a lot of great ideas, I think already for next year as well with the car and hopefully it's going to be enough.
Q: (Lucas Santochi – Projeto Motor) Now we are at the end of the season, we have been at almost all of the tracks, what are your conclusions about the new regulations, did Formula 1 get it right? You think it really helped racing, does it still need some tweaks?
MV: Yeah, definitely the racing improved. Some tracks are a little bit better than others but on some tracks it’s just very difficult to pass anyway, doesn't matter what car you use. But I think that has been the main target anyway. And, of course, there are always things that can be improved further. The ride of the cars, you know, they're very stiff at the moment and bouncing around a bit. But I think overall the rules have been pretty good.
KM: Yeah, certainly following is a lot better now. At some tracks, actually, overtaking is not better because the slipstreaming effect is less with these cars than they used to be. So at tracks where following wasn't such an issue with the old cars, I think maybe overtaking is actually almost more difficult, because of the slipstream effect, but overall, for sure it's better.
EO: Yeah, I think it has definitely gone in the right direction. As Kevin said, maybe the thing to improve will be the slipstreaming, which is quite low at the moment. And I think the other thing that was also implemented this rule is to bring everyone more together and this is still not the case. The last car on the grid is still too far from the top car so that's probably the next step.
LS: Yeah, nothing more to add. And I think it's been a big improvement. Following cars is a lot easier than it used to be and we're seeing closer racing. I agree with Esteban. I think there's still too much of a gap between the top cars and the bottom cars. But, you know, that's been Formula 1 for many years so I think it's definitely been a step in the right direction.
Q: Do you think that gap will narrow?
LS: I think over time, probably, with the regulations, just naturally everyone kind of catches up, but I think it's also just the nature of F1. It's been like that for years. Some teams get it right better than other teams. I still do think however, the cars are quite heavy. I think they're still bouncing a lot. It's been improved, but I think there's still obviously things we can think about to make it even better.
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