PRESS CONFERENCE: 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
It’s the final race weekend for the Formula 1 season and here, you can see the press conference ahead of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – split into two sections.
Part one features George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris and part two of the press conference features Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen – both of which you can see below.
PART ONE – PRESS CONFERENCE: 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris
Q: Fernando, it’s you final grand prix, can you describe your emotions coming into the weekend, please?
Fernando Alonso: “So far I think it’s a normal weekend. I think on Sunday it’s going to be different, when it gets a little bit more emotions. But right now, I landed like 10 hours ago from Japan.”
“I’ve been racing last weekend in Shanghai and I’m not probably into the mood yet of this final race. It feels OK right now. As I said, it’s going to be special, emotional, and hopefully a good one.”
Q: Lewis, on the subject of this being Fernando’s final grand prix. You’ve raced alongside him and against him. What kind of a rival has he been for you?
Lewis Hamilton: “He’s been OK. We’ve had good times and bad times. I don’t really know what else to say.”
“We’ve grown… he was obviously here before I was and achieved incredible things before I got here and also partly why I was here.It’s been a privilege to be in an era where he was racing.”
Q: Will you miss him?
Lewis Hamilton: “Will I miss him? Yeah, I think the sport will miss him.”
Q: Lando, you are going to be driving for McLaren in 2019 and you’ve been working with Fernando this year. What has he taught you?
Lando Norris: “He’s taught me quite a few things. One of the biggest things was working with him in Daytona, because I got to see a different side of him, I guess, working together. It’s not just some things. There are quite a few; a lot of stuff I can take through to my first year in Formula 1.”
“And already, things I’ve taken into practice, into FP1s. There have been a lot of things I’ve been able to learn.”
“We’ve had some good times. We get along really well and hopefully can continue in the future.”
Q: And George, just a question for you about Fernando. You haven’t worked with him but was he a driver you followed closely when you were growing up?
George Russell: “Yeah, 100%. Growing up as a young karter you always look towards Formula 1 and Fernando was in his prime at that time and always fighting for championships, so as Lewis said, the sport is going to miss him, but he is a fantastic driver.”
Q: Fernando, you’ve said you’re not in the mood for reflections but what do you feel is your legacy?
Fernando Alonso: “I don’t know really. I think it’s difficult to say in the first person. I think I’ve been trying to do my best all the time here, fighting against anything or circumstance that may put some stress or put other people down.”
“I was trying always to give my best and somehow working with the kids and the karting school, the museum, trying to do a lot of things with the fans and the young generation, trying to help them, if I can, with the knowledge I’ve had all these years and with facilities or something that I probably didn’t have at my time and if they have the dreams and the talent, try to help them.”
Q: Thank you Fernando, good luck this weekend. Lewis, you’ve been a five-time champion for nigh on four weeks now. In terms of the championships you’ve won, where does 2018 rank?
Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t know, hopefully somewhere around the top. I’ve not really thought about it too much, to be honest. I’ve been focusing on trying to finish off the season strong.”
“But it does feel… you know me, I don’t have a great memory, but it does feel like one of the best years that I can remember, competition-wise and competitive-wise, in terms of performances.”
Q: Thank you, good luck for the weekend ahead. Lando, coming back to you. As we’ve already said, a McLaren driver in 2019. Can you just paint a little picture for us about the preparations that are going to go on between now and Melbourne in March?
Lando Norris: “A lot! I think I’ve got a lot for myself to look forward. A lot of things that I haven’t done yet to prepare for that first race… the first test of course.”
“Things I’m sure the team will be able to help me through, and guide me in many ways. So I look forward to it. I think there are a lot of things for me to be working on, which I’m very excited about. I’m sure I’m going to be busy.”
“It’s not going to be the easiest of winters. But whatever I can do to prepare myself for Australia, the first race… I’ve never been to Australia yet, so there are a lot of things for myself to do.”
Q: And a lot of jetlag. Thank you Lando. George, coming to you, of course you’re going to be racing for Williams next year but you’ve got a championship to win first this weekend, the Formula 2 championship. You’ve got a big lead; just tell us about your approach coming into the weekend.
George Russell: “I don’t think my approach is going to change, to be honest. We’ve had a fantastic season, so there is no real reason to change the approach.”
“Like you said, we have a very healthy margin, but anything can still happen and I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season.”
PART TWO – PRESS CONFERENCE: 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Esteban Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen
Q: Esteban and Max, it’s been two weeks since you guys were involved in a collision at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Max, let’s start with you: is that now water under the bridge?
Max Verstappen: “You guys like the drama, don’t you? Like two weeks after.”
“Yeah, no, all good, in the sense that you can’t change the result. It’s of course unfortunate. It’s always a bit weird to crash with a backmarker but that’s how it goes.”
Q: Would you do anything differently if the same situation arose?
Max Verstappen: “No, I wouldn’t, because from my point of view, how I look back on it is that I just passed Lewis for the lead and this season, it has been a lot about tyre management so as soon as I got into the lead, I was basically just cruising to save the tyres and somebody comes out of the pits and has fresh supersoft tyres, I think it was at the time… In general, I think this season Force India has been at least a second to a second and a half behind us.”
“For two laps, maybe, you feel like you have decent pace but the guys in the lead are most of the time not pushing flat out to get somewhere, because once you in the lead, what do you want to do?”
“So maybe you want to try and get past and then try and pull away but within two laps your tyres are gone, or at least, the peak has gone and you end up letting us by again so at the end of that whole process, to try and get by you’re anyway also destroying your tyres in a way so I think it’s always better to just stay behind and follow.”
“Clearly that was not the case.”
Q: Thank you Max, and Esteban, how do you reflect on it?
Esteban Ocon: “Yeah, it’s not a great thing, you know, to be involved with a crash with the leader, of course.”
“It’s not a thing you want to see and I’m sorry for Max. It was his race to win, he did a fantastic job during the whole race but yeah, on the other side, I had a slow pit stop so I came out in between Lewis and Max….got the blue flag after a couple of corners.”
“I got away from the blue flag and I was quite fast and behind Max so I was stuck and then the team came onto the radio saying ‘you can unlap yourself if you want and if you are faster’ and as Max said, he was managing the tyres so yeah, I just went for it.”
“It was important for us to get close to the top ten pack. If something happens, you know, a penalty or anything, I could have got in the points.”
“Things that happen, you can’t come back from what has happened but yeah, that’s how it is, we have to move forward.”
Q: Max, coming back to you, this is the team’s final race with Renault engines. Just how excited are you about the future with Honda?
Max Verstappen: “I’m very excited but the whole team is. You can really feel it. I think it’s good that the whole team is super-motivated for next year. We know that we can build a great car.”
“Of course we are just waiting to have the whole package together but I definitely feel a difference compared to the last years where… the motivation was there, everybody was always trying to do their best but now they’re just so looking forward to next year that I think next year, to have that extra motivation will definitely help us to be more successful next year.”
Q: Esteban, coming back to you; we now know for certain that you won’t be racing in Formula One next season. What does 2019 hold for you?
Esteban Ocon: “Yeah, we’ll see what it holds for me. Definitely I will be around in the F1 paddock and trying to get as much mileage as possible in a Formula One car next year.”
“Me and Mercedes, we see great opportunities for me to come back in 2020 so hopefully that will be the case and hopefully I will be back even stronger than I am now.”
Q: Have you had any assurances from Mercedes about 2020?
Esteban Ocon: “No, assurances, no. You never have but as I said, we seen great opportunities so hopefully there will be.”
Q: Coming to the Ferrari drivers now, you both have good memories of racing here in Yas Marina. Sebastian, if we could start with you, how important is it for you and the team to end 2018 on a high?
Sebastian Vettel: “I think it’s what everybody tries to do but certainly after a season with highs but also with lows I think it would great to finish on a high.”
Q: And then looking further ahead, what has Ferrari go to do to present a consistent title challenge in 2019?
Sebastian Vettel: “I think we need a stronger package.”
“We certainly have had our moments this year when we had strong races but we also had races which weren’t very strong, we weren’t quick enough, so I think overall it’s the speed that decides and I think more often than not I think we’re lacking a little bit of speed.”
“I think we’re working very hard and I think the motivation is there to do that final step that is still outstanding.”
Q: Kimi, after eight seasons, this is your final race with Ferrari. What does this team mean to you and what will you miss most about it?
Kimi Raikkonen: “I don’t know.”
“Obviously I had this leaving them once already so it’s not a new thing. I’m not sad because I don’t see why we need to be sad. We will stay as friends.”
“We’re going to see a lot of us anyhow in the paddock so not an awful lot changes. We’ll both go for new things and I think it’s exciting but we’ve had good times with the team, great people. We’ve had some difficult times, but that’s part of business and I think that’s how it should go: sometimes it needs to be a bit hard.”
“No, obviously I won the championship with them, as a driver. We twice won the team (championship) so I’m very happy to be part of it because there’s not many people who have done it.”
“We will happily go different ways. We’re not that far away from each other and we will keep doing what we do.”
Q: And just looking at this weekend, you’re in a tight battle with Bottas, just 14 points separating you in the championship. How important is that third place for you?
Kimi Raikkonen: “I don’t think it’s changing my world any way.”
“If I end up third, I think we need to go wherever the prize giving is so it’s a negative thing in the end, you know, more travelling but we’ll see.”