Bahrain Grand Prix – Thursday (Press Conference, News and Photos)
Back-to-back after China, we’re now looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix – a beautiful circuit which many drivers love to race at.
Even though most of us look forward to the actual race weekend which starts on a Friday with practices – we can’t forget about Thursday as this is when we have press conferences so let’s start with that.
Bahrain Grand Prix Driver Press Conference
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
Sergio Perez – Force India
Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren
Q – Lewis, great win last time out in China. You’re joint leader of the FIA Formula One World Championship – so far, so good?
Hamilton – “So far, for good – yeah. Happy to be back here in Bahrain – always amazing weather!”
“It’s been an awesome season so far and we’re working hard collectively as a team to try and continue at that level.”
Q – Just following up on some comments after the last race, obviously you are a two-time winner here in Bahrain but given the circuit layout and the particularly higher temperatures, which could possibly play to Ferrari’s strengths…. are you expecting an even tough battle to keep them behind you this weekend?
Hamilton – “I definitely do. I think Ferrari have shown tremendous pace and I think obviously in the first race, particularly in race trim – they’re very, very quick.”
“Being here, it’s a hotter race and I think the gap is going to be closer, if not different that perhaps it was before but we shall see.”
Q – Yesterday, Fernando Alonso announced that he’s going to race at Indy next month – in the Indianapolis 500. As a motor sport fan yourself, what do you think of him skipping Monaco for Indy?
Hamilton – “I think firstly that a great driver is able to do that and I think that us drivers should be able to do more than one series.”
“Obviously there was a period of time in the past when there were drivers doing multiple series so I think it’s pretty cool that he’s doing that. I hope Jenson comes back – it would be grab for the sport to have Jenson back in.”
Q – Thanks for that. Stoffel – coming on to you. You made your Formula One race debut here 12 months ago with a points-scoring finish. It’s been a pretty tough couple of races for you but what have you taken from them to make you stronger when going forward?
Vandoorne – “Yeah, it’s great to be back in Bahrain – I obviously had a good race here last year which was a nice opportunity to get.”
“A year on, it’s a lot different now – I’ve got two races under my belt and a bit more experience. It’s not been an easy situation for us at the moment but I feel that we are in a good position and hopefully this weekend we can prove again that we have made a step forward.”
Q – Thanks, Sergio you finished on the podium here in 2014. You have a 100 per cent finishing record at this track – so is it one of your favourites?
Perez – “Yeah, I think this is one of my favourites. I have had good races here in the past and certainly podium the year before.”
“The track suits my style quite well and hopefully we can get a good finish. Close the gap to the cars ahead especially now that the midfield is so packed. We are probably a little bit behind in that group but hopefully we can keep scoring good points on Sundays.”
Bahrain Grand Prix Press Conference – Part Two
Fernando Alonso – McLaren
Kevin Magnussen – Haas
Jolyon Palmer – Renault
Q – So, Fernando! Twice a winner here in Bahrain but really only one thing to ask you about this afternoon is the Indianapolis 500. First current F1 driver to do Indy for around 40 years. What’s in it for you and what’s in it for Formula One?
Alonso – “As you said, something that is not very common now. I think the past it was all about the best drivers in the world with the best cars in the world and the best races in the world.”
“Then, it became more and more professional, the sport and everyone dedicated or fully committed to only one series and I think that has changed over time.”
“The possibility was there for us this year and I am very excited to try a different thing. If I want to be the best driver in the world then there are two options – I win 8 Formula One World Championships, one more than Michael – which is very unlikely or the second one is to win different series in different moments of my career and be a driver that can race and in any car, in any series.”
“So, that’s very challenging but also very attractive as well. This is the reason behind.”
“With the same team, it’s a win-win situation and I think it’s good for Formula One as the market is big in North America and that is what we have been pursuing for many years.”
“I think it’s good to go there now and show respect for the Indy Car series, good for Indy I goes, to have some Formula One drivers in the competition and same for McLaren-Honda.”
“I think as a team, to be racing in the same day in Monte Carlo and in the Indy 500 – two McLaren-Honda’s in different series is amazing for the motor sport fans and as I said, this is a win-win for everyone.”
Q – It’s obviously very different and a different kind of driving discipline – in terms of preparation, how many days of running do you expect to get before race day and what kind of preparation will you do?
Alonso – “It’s still on-going. I cannot answer 100 per cent. The plan at the moment is that next weekend I will be in Alabama just visiting the race and meeting the team members to see how things go there.”
“Probably on Monday after the race I will do a seat fitting and then I will fly to Russia for the next race. After Russia I will try to be in Indianapolis for a couple of simulator days and hopefully test the car but that’s not 100 per cent.”
“After that I will go to the Spanish Grand Prix and then fly to America on SUnday after the race because the free practice is on Monday at mid-day so it’s a few busy weeks in front.”
“On the planes, I will try to look at some videos and some races from the past years and try to learn as quick as I can. It’s a complete different skill that you need there to adapt to the car, to adapt to the circuit, to learn strategies…. I am not ready yet but in the next couple of weeks, I am confident that I will be able to adapt quicker.”
Q – Just before you came in, Sergio and Lewis were talking about it and thinking about the challenge ahead of you. Both saying that they think you’ll do great because you’re an outstanding talent and great at race management. When you look at different races do you feel confident that there’s a lot of areas you’ve got in your game that will help you?
Alonso – “Hmmm, not really. I never thought about that before making a decision – I think…. I don’t feel prepared now. I don’t feel, let’s say I’m not in my comfort zone driving those cars or thinking about those cars but I’m not afraid of trying new things and I’m not afraid of not delivering a good result – knowing that at the same time there are very important weeks ahead.”
“If I want to win one day the triple crown, I have to make this step and this year was the best opportunity for us as a team.”
Q – Kevin, coming to you – eighth in China and scoring Haas’ first points of the season. We asked Sergio about the intensity of the midfield battle. Do you feel this is a circuit that you can gain and rise on as a team?
Magnussen – “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be as good as China or even Melbourne. I think that we have a good car and it works well in most conditions so yeah, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to perform here.”
“Our target is to be on top of everything and to try and score points again – but, it’s not easy.”
Q – Jolyon, a brutal weaken in Australia but then in China, you qualified 18th and finished 13th. What have you had to deal with?
Palmer – “Australia was tough for many reasons but China was so much better to be honest. The car is feeling good but I had a clean session in FP3 and we were in the top ten.”
“Starting from the back, it’s been difficult to do much and we couldn’t make a lot of inroads in the race – I think the performance of the car is good and Nico has been showing, especially in China.”
“It’s just a matter of putting in some clean laps on Friday – I think we’ve done about 10 so far across two weekends so yeah, it would be nice to have a clean weekend and I think we can get in the points.”
Q – Does this generation of cars suit you?
Palmer – “I like it! That’s for sure, I think probably every driver is going to enjoy driving one of these cars – there’s a lot of downforce and for me, never having driven a V8 or a V10 era of F1 car – this is really exciting.”
“It’s the quickest I’ve ever driven and the downforce is the main that the we feel – that’s exciting.”
Bahrain Grand Prix – Thursday (News)
News from the Paddock Today
Red Bull Racing & Ferrari
Could Daniel Ricciardo be making a move to Ferrari next year?
Rumours around the paddock in Bahrain think this is a possibility….
Rumours are suggesting that Jenson Button will be replacing Fernando Alonso for the Monaco Grand Prix (see this post here).
Bahrain Grand Prix – Thursday Photos
There’s lots more coming soon ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend so make sure you keep checking back!
Pictures – Kym Illman F1