Thursday Press Conference – 2018 Japanese Grand Prix
Drivers from Left to Right – Stoffel Vandoorne, Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll
Location: Suzuka Circuit, Japan
With another race weekend upon us, it’s none other than the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix – the circuit which drivers love and where fans are wonderfully unique and super-passionate about the sport.
Here, you can see the Thursday Press Conference with the drivers featured above speaking to the media.
Question: Three of the four of you are without a contract for 2019, so let’s start with that topic, and perhaps you could just tell us the latest. Let’s start with Esteban.
Esteban Ocon: “Yeah, that is true, so far. I still don’t have any news to tell you – unfortunately. For sure I am trying to get a seat for next year but if I don’t, I will be sitting on the side, but the sure thing is I will be back for 2020 and I will push my maximum to be back in 2020 anyway.”
Lance Stroll: “Right now, still have five more races to go so I’m going to take it weekend by weekend.”
“Yeah, we’ll see what the future holds.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “So far not much news from my side, to be honest.”
“Formula One seems very unlikely, obviously, and like I said last week, there’s been a lot of talks with different series, different teams, and there are a lot of possibilities….So, I hope I can tell you a bit more in the next couple of weeks.”
Question: Esteban, the car is performing very well at the moment, had a good race in Russia and you have a very good record here at Suzuka: qualified fifth last year, finished sixth. So, what are your expectations for the weekend?
Esteban Ocon: “Yeah, definitely big expectations. We have a strong car since a couple of races now. We had a strong upgrade now and we are fighting to be the fourth fastest team each time so definitely looking forward to be racing on this track.”
“As you said, I have great memories, so I can’t wait. It’s a track that suits my driving style quite well, and it’s one I’ve been successful at, so I look forward.”
Question: Lance, Russia was a tough weekend for you and the team. Can you tell us, what are the car’s shortcomings, and how difficult is it to drive at the moment?
Lance Stroll: “In terms of result it was a tough weekend. We didn’t pick up any points or anything but I still think we had a decent race, y’know? The position is not what we’re hoping for and not what we’re aiming for but y’know, we had some pace during the race.”
“I was behind Fernando throughout the whole race, challenging him, trying to get by – but the nature of the track, it’s very, very difficult to overtake.”
“Yeah, and y’know, where we stand now, I believe there’s no more upgrades for the rest of the season, but we’re still going to be doing everything we can every weekend to try to improve the balance of the car.”
“I’m going to try to get everything I can out of the package that we have for the rest of the season.”
Question: Stoffel, I believe you came down on the bullet train this morning from Tokyo, I just wanted to explore your love affair with Japan. You raced here, of course, a couple of years ago in Super Formula. Just what is it about Japan that you love so much and perhaps you could tell us a secret about Suzuka as well – because you won your last race in Super Formula here at Suzuka.
Stoffel Vandoorne: “Yeah, I’ve got some good memories from Japan, racing here in Super Formula. I think first of all the fans are always pretty amazing and it’s quite exciting to come back here and see what they bring for all the drivers. I think they really support everyone.”
“So, definitely good memories from my year in Super Formula. Also, one of the greatest circuits. I think the feelings you have here in a Formula One car is probably the best you can have.”
“Very challenging and looking forward to being back here this weekend.”
Question: Sebastian, we saw quite a gap in performance between yourselves and Mercedes last weekend in Russia, particularly over one lap. How confident are you of closing that gap here at Suzuka – particularly at a track that’s been very kind to you in the past.
Sebastian Vettel: “Well, within a week you can’t do too many things differently, so we hope that the track suits us a bit better and we have a better weekend than in Russia.”
“I think we nevertheless managed to get and squeeze everything out of the car. I think in race pace we were hopefully a bit closer – so let’s see where we start off here.”
Question: One of the highlights for us, observers of the Sochi weekend, was seeing you and Lewis going wheel-to-wheel. He spoke after the race about how much he enjoys the challenge of racing against a driver of your calibre. I just wanted to get your thoughts on him. How much are you enjoying the challenge of racing Lewis Hamilton this year? And in what areas does he impress you the most?
Sebastian Vettel: “Well, first of all I think you always enjoy when you race somebody on track and you tend to enjoy more when you come out ahead – so I’m sure he had more fun last weekend than I had. “
“But yeah, obviously, it’s tough to have a wheel-to-wheel battle on the track but then if you do, you appreciate it a lot more, so I think… it’s been intense races and challenging races we had but not that much wheel-to-wheel racing but yeah, as I said, I enjoyed it. I didn’t enjoy it probably as much as he did.”
“I would have liked it to have lastest a little bit longer, for more laps, but that was probably the only chance that we had. Apart from that, obviously, it’s always difficult to compare.”
“These days, I think racing is very different to maybe the way it has been many years ago. You don’t spend much time with each other even though you share the track for all the sessions, you don’t see each other very often until the race, and then even in the race it depends on how the race unfolds – but I think it’s also fine like that, in a way, that some races are more intense than others.”
“I think if every race would be intense then they would all be normal again. Naturally, obviously you enjoy it more when you come out on top.”