Driver Press Conference – Italy
You might have seen this picture all over social media but here’s what happened during the FIA Driver Press Conference on Thursday, featuring Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez.
DRIVERS – From Left to Right
Esteban Ocon (Force India), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Sergio Perez (Force India)
Driver Press Conference Italy
Q: Sebastian, let’s start with you. There seems to have been a real bounce. If you can fight with Mercedes, especially at Spa, then you can fight them anywhere. Has the success of the update you brought to Hungary and Spa given you clear belief as far as the championship is concerned?
Vettel: “No, it wasn’t necessary. I think that there was always belief and if you’re going to come into the race and you don’t have the feeling or belief that you can achieve something for one, or many, races in succession then there’s not much point.”
“To really answer your question, I guess, the form we showed in Spa was real and the speed was there in particular in the race which was weeks ago, on a similar type of track, maybe wasn’t the case.”
“That’s very positive and obviously, we had a smoother weekend all around but still – we’ve made improvements on all fronts so I’m very, very happy with the performance.”
Q: It’s been a while since a Ferrari driver came to Monza leading the Drivers’ World Championship. With the new commitment that you’ve just made to Ferrari for three more years, do you feel now the full force of Tifosi support and is it worth a tenth or two, do you think?
Vettel: “Well, it’s worth something! Obviously we get out tomorrow and then we see for the first the how many people show up but I guess it ramps up during the weekend.”
“This was fairly quiet this morning, I walked the track, but considering it’s only Thursday there are a lot of people with flags around the track – definitely more than in other places.”
“Yeah, it’s difficult to quantify but I guess there is something there – obviously this is a Grand Prix that the whole team enjoys and it’s very special to be a part of so we need to make sure that we enjoy it.”
Q: Sergio, coming to you, your battle with Esteban has been one of the stories, one of the talking points of the season. Things started to get a little tricky in Canada, then obviously in Baku there was a collision, a little bit of contact in Budapest and then obviously, we had Spa last weekend. Why have things escalated and what’s your side the story?
Perez: “We’ve been racing very closely lately. As you say, we’ve had a couple of incidents in the last races. I think, I had a really good conversation with him, personally, between him and me, and I think it’s time to move forwards.”
“Everyone had his opinion of what happened. The engineers have one opinion, the fans, us… have different opinions on what has been happening.”
“The most important thing is that, from now, we move forwards. The main objective as a team is to finish fourth in the Constructors’ and we cannot afford to lose any more points.”
“I think we’ve lost quite a lot of points in those races you’ve just mentioned, so we will move forwards and I’m very sure that these things will not happen again.”
Q: Esteban, what’s your side of the story. Why did things escalate, and escalate particularly during the race in Belgium?
Ocon: “We’ve been racing really closely, as Sergio was saying, we’re always fighting for the last tenths in qualifying, or in the race so, for sure, it’s really close between us. But yeah, what has happened before has happened.”
“Now we can’t change what happened before. We have to move forwards. As Sergio was saying, we had a talk this morning together, just us two. Yeah, it is time we forget all that, that we work hard for the team.”
“It’s important – that’s what they deserve as well – that we behave as professionals and yeah, we want to keep challenging the others, keep pushing them and we have to keep that fourth place until the end.”
Q: So, you look forward. Sergio, the team has indicated they won’t let this happen again, that instructions will be given. As the more senior driver, how would you like that to be managed?
Perez: “I think we are both mature enough. Esteban has been racing for a long time as well and I think we both know how to handle things.”
“Yeah, although there will be some instructions coming out for us, I think we will put everything in place to make sure the interests of the team come first before us.”
Q: And Esteban, is it important for your development that you’ll be allowed to push to the maximum at every event – and how will team instructions affect that?
Ocon: “No, I mean, it doesn’t matter if I’m a rookie or if I have experience or not.”
“At the end, what matters at the end is the result for us, the result for the team and yeah, if there is a team instruction, I will follow it. There is no other points.”
Q: Sebastian, quick one for you, at your previous team, you experienced a similarly tense battle with your team-mate. Does there come a point in a relationship where a line is crossed that you can’t go back from – and how do you avoid that?
Vettel: “No, I don’t think… I think you can always talk to each other. On track, let’s be fair, you have occasions where things may not turn out the way both want to.”
“I don’t think any driver ever has really bad intentions over his team mate or any other guy but for sure the duel with your team-mate is a bit more intense. You’re driving the same car, you are therefore naturally fighting for the same position around the track.”
“So, yeah, you want to stay ahead. I think inside the car you want to be the one that is in front. At the time maybe you don’t care much about what else is going on, as they both mentioned. Obviously, the team behind, they don’t really care which driver because they see their cars.”
“It’s a tough line in terms of, y’know, you have to be, in a way, egoistic inside a car. Equally, you want to do the best for the team. But there’s never a line, I think, you cross you can never can come back from.”
They obviously took the opportunity to talk to each other and y’know, if I look now with Mark, obviously, I guess that’s the one you’re talking about, I have a very good relationship with him and we talked also about stuff that happened years ago with a lot of distance and y’know, now we can laugh about it.”
“We both have our views, I think we both have different views, maybe now on some things that we had back but that’s normal as you go forwards. That’s why I think you can also cross a line again.”
Q: Quick question to all three of you: it is Ferrari’s 70th anniversary, as Sebastian’s hat tells us. A quick specific Ferrari memory, either from your childhood or your racing career, any special Ferrari Formula One memory.
Perez: “I think the one that’s comes to my mind was the first test that I did for Ferrari when I was a member of the Ferrari academy.”
“Was a very special day and that will stick with me forever. Ferrari is the team that we all admire, that we all want to do well as a Formula One fan. So that moment was very special.”
Ocon: “Yeah, also, I tested for Ferrari back in 2014, at the end of the year. It was just magical. Testing in Fiorano on that beautiful track, driving a Ferrari, working with Italian engineers, Italian mechanics.”
“I also speak Italian, I’ve lived in Italy, I’ve raced a lot in go-kart in Italy and you know what Ferrari is for motorsport. It’s something massive.”
“I’m also a big fan of Michael and I was watching on TV when I was really young and I will also remember looking at the Ferrari ahead.”
Q: And finally Sebastian, you’ve obviously got a pretty decent scrapbook of your own memories of Ferrari – any before that in particular?
Vettel: “Yeah, as another big admirer of Michael, most of my memories as a child of watching Formula One are linked to Michael and in that case linked to Ferrari.”
“So, big admiration for him but for the car he was racing, for the team and obviously the dream came true when I was able to join the team – but yeah, lots of memories. Childhood, I remember I was always racing with toy cars and the red car always won. Don’t know why!”
“It’s sort of what I was taught by the world around me, I guess, is that that car should be in the front, or has to be in front.”
“Yeah, and obviously since then when I had the opportunity through Michael to be in the Ferrari garage for the time, I think Nurburgring 2003 for a short time. Just magical to see the guys moving around, everybody dressed in red.”
“These kind of things really matter to you as a child and make a difference. Now, obviously, I’m there whenever I want to be, which is quite nice. So, lots of very, very special memories.”