Formula 1 Press Conference – Spain (Spanish Grand Prix)
The 2017 Formula 1 season is well and truly under way and this weekend, we’re all looking forward to the Spanish Grand Prix!
On Thursday, the press conference took place and below you can read all about what the drivers had to say ahead of the race weekend!
Formula 1 Press Conference – Spain (Spanish Grand Prix)
Part 1 – Drivers: Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel
PRESS CONFERENCE – Spanish Grand Prix
Q – Fernando, what are you hoping to take out of this weekend in Barcelona?
Fernando Alonso – “Let’s see what we can do here. Definitely our moment right now is not the best – we have been underperforming in our first four races and we haven’t finished any of the Grand Prix’s yet.”
“The first step is to improve and this is what we have been working on so far, the second is to find out how competitive we can be here on this track which is normally quite different compared to the last few races.”
“The upgrades we bring here normally may change things and we need to find out where we are and in which positions we can move this weekend.”
“We need to raise our game and hopefully finish with both cars this race to accumulate some mileage and hopefully this will be the start of a new championship for us.”
Q – How have you and the team dealt with the DNS (Did Not Start) in Sochi and what news is there on the recovery programme with Honda?
Fernando Alonso – “Well, actually – I still don’t know what happened exactly in Sochi. We had problems with the ERS on the formation lap and I tried to restart the whole thing during the formation lap a couple of times but on the last attempt, it didn’t start.”
“Bad news for us and as a team not being able to start a race and with Stoffel’s car in Bahrain – completely unacceptable – we need to raise our game and finish with both cars.”
Q – Two weeks to go until your Indy 500 race debut – you’ve had some practice at the Brickyard, how’s it all going?
Fernando Alonso – “Did you watch it?”
Yes – on the stream.
Fernando Alonso – “OK, you really have nothing to do! (Laughs) I mean yeah, it was different and probably as I expected it to be, the car felt quite different and running this asymmetric set up definitely feels not normal to drive so you need to adjust your mind set.”
“I did the first one which is just the first feeling with the car but now when I think that next week we start free practice and you start running with other people around etc…. I think it will build my confidence.”
Q – Carlos, you’ve scored points in three of the four races this season, sometimes after qualifying outside the top 10. Is the battle with Williams, Force India and Renault one which Toro Rosso feel you can win this year?
Carlos Sainz – “Definitely. I think as a target, Toro Rosso was very clear at the beginning of the year and that they wanted to finish P5 in the Championship. I think it has been an interesting start to the season having five teams fighting for P4 as a best result.”
“In my opinion, at the moment it looks like Williams had the upper hand on every one of us having a car closer to Red Bull than us. But we are making the right steps and little by little, we are taking our chances.”
Q – You’re happy with how you’re driving and the steps you’re making?
Carlos Sainz – “Yeah, I think I am pretty happy. It has been my best start to a Formula 1 season up until now and I cannot complain. It’s been a solid start and we need to keep going like that.”
Q – Sebastian, your best start to a season since 2011 I believe, you’re 13 points clear in the drivers’ standings and it seems that your emphasis has shifted from Ferrari and the others trying to find a way past Mercedes to Mercedes trying to find a way past you – is that how it feels?
Sebastian Vettel – “I think we are in a much better position this year than in previous years but it’s still fairly early.”
“I think this will be an important race and as you touched on – it’s usually the time that people start to bring a couple more bits but then again, if you look at the last – I don’t know, 10 years, it’s not any more than fixed date when you bring a new car.”
“The top teams tend to bring stuff to nearly every race and I don’t know, to answer your questions I don’t feel it’s like that, Mercedes obviously had a phenomenal run in the last couple of years and they are still the ones to beat, not just race by race but overall.”
Q – You mentioned the upgrades, obviously they are going to be crucial to you maintaining your challenge. Do you have as much confidence in Ferrari’s ability to deliver the upgrades as you have had in the car they built you at the beginning of the season?
Sebastian Vettel – “I think it was impossible to have any expectation going into this season because everything was so new. I think that’s fair for all of us. As you said, all that matters is what you keep doing – it doesn’t matter what you have done.”
“I know that we have the same people and I believe that they will bring the upgrades we need in which to keep fighting.”
Q – Pole position in Sochi, we all know that pole position is crucial here in Barcelona – is that where you’re going to put your focus on during the free practice sessions?
Sebastian Vettel – “Yeah, quali and race so no surprises. Obviously this is a track we know very well but the conditions usually here are very different when we come now compared to February or March.”
“I think you always aim for pole positions and then we try to do the best in quali and prepare as much as possible as well.”
Part 2 – Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Marcus Ericsson
Q – Marcus, Sauber’s announced an engine partnership with Honda, are you pleased with the Honda deal and does it push you towards a long-term commitment with the team?
Marcus Ericsson – “I think looking at it right now, it’s obviously not the best decision because Honda are struggling quite a lot at the moment but I think in the longer term for the team, I think it can be a very clever decision.”
“I’m sure sooner or later Honda will get it together, let’s wait and see but maybe at the moment it’s not the best decision.”
Q – What happens in terms of season preparation for the next year? Does it impact the way you approach things and does it impact you as a driver?
Marcus Ericsson – “No, not really, I wouldn’t say that. We have the engine which we need at the moment and we need to maximise on our season and focus on that.”
“Then, as every team – you need to start looking towards next season and focus on the development for the next year but at the moment our focus is on this season and catching up with the midfield group.”
Q – Lewis, you’ve been consistent for so long and it seemed odd that it went the way it did in Sochi – have you figured out what happened?
Lewis Hamilton – “Yeah, it was just a bunch of small things all added up in one pot. Nothing in particular and no single one thing that was bigger than the other – that just led us slightly in the wrong direction and this weekend it should be better.”
Q – The team was talking about the difficulty of getting the tyres into a particular window – is that a contributing factor and is it less likely to be a factor this weekend?
Lewis Hamilton – “It’s a tyre issue in the sense that the tyre’s working range is quite small so yeah, the whole weekend just generally wasn’t in the right window with it.”
Q – Obviously if you couldn’t win, it was a good job that your team-mate Valtteri Bottas managed to finish ahead of Vettel. How pleased are you for him and what do you expect from him now that he’s got that first win under his belt?
Lewis Hamilton – “Well, I’ve said from the beginning that he was in competition so it’s no surprise that he would eventually get a win. I was actually very happy, you saw at the end of the race I could at least be happy and share the glory of the team beating the Ferrari’s and still keeping up in the lead of the Constructors Championship.”
“I’m proud of what he had achieved and I just wish that I could have backed him up by getting a 1-2 but maybe that can work this weekend.”
Q – Max, it’s been 12 months since you sat in this room having just made the switch to the Red Bull team and what a weekend that turned out to be for you. Your learning curve has more of less been vertical since then but I wonder, in what areas do you feel like you’ve made a real improvement from 12 months ago, to now?
Max Verstappen – “Difficult to say…..”
Lewis Hamilton – “You’ve got your driving license now!”
Max Verstappen – “I already had that back then”
Lewis Hamilton – “No you didn’t!”
Max Verstappen – “Five months already”
Lewis Hamilton – “I was just saying that he’s got his driving license now – it’s a big step!”
Max Verstappen (laughing) – “Yeah, I think it’s just general experience both in life and in racing but nothing major. I would say that in terms of driving the car faster or anything – it all adds up to the little things and if you feel better in the car, you understand the car better.”
Q – What about the way you deal with all these guys, particularly the ones at the front?
Max Verstappen – “Well yeah, you’re driving amongst them compared to what I was doing before but that was always the aim and the target once I moved into Formula 1 – it’s just a natural process I guess….”
We will have more from practices ahead the Spanish Grand Prix but below you can have a look at some photos captured from Thursday.
Lots more on the way ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend!
Make sure you keep checking back for all the latest! 🙂
Photos – Kym Illman