DRIVER GROUP 1: Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull), Lance STROLL (Aston Martin), Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari), Yuki TSUNODA (AlphaTauri), George RUSSELL (Mercedes)
Q: Max, first of all, can we get your reaction to the retirement the impending retirement of Sebastian Vettel and tell us what kind of a hole he’s going to leave behind?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, he has achieved so much in this sport, that it’s fully understandable for him to retire. I mean, I think he’s had an amazing career. He’s won a lot of races; he’s won a lot of championships as well. And I think of course, he’s a great ambassador for the sport. So, you know, to see him go is… it’s something that you can see coming, everyone is getting older, at one point, everyone is retiring. And is of course, never nice when that moment arrives, especially, of course, for Seb’s fans. But these things happen. And I think it’s important now that he’s just going to enjoy his life with the family, because F1 is such a short period of time in your life that you work so hard to achieve all these things he has achieved and now it’s time to enjoy.
Q: And if we can just bring it onto this weekend now, very different race track to Paul Ricard. Do you expect this to be one of the tougher tracks for Red Bull this season?
MV: Yeah, I personally think it’s going to be a little bit harder for us. Just purely one-lap performance, especially. I mean, I don’t expect it to be terrible but I do think that Ferrari is going to be super strong here, like, of course, they have been the whole year. But I do think that this is a track where they might be, let’s say, very strong. But we’ll see. Also, the weather: I don’t know what’s going to happen, how much rain is falling. But all these things can come into play and can do many things to the result.
Q: Lance, coming to you please. Your reaction to your teammates impending retirement.
Lance STROLL: Just touching on Max’s saying, he’s achieved so much in this sport. He’s been a great team-mate. I’ve really enjoyed working alongside Seb for the last year and a half. We still have half a season to go, but no, it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it. And he’s achieved so much. And, you know, this was a chapter in his life that I think he’s now moving on from, he has a family at home and other things to look forward to in life. So, I wish him all the best going forward. He’s definitely achieved so much. It’s been an incredible career for him and we wish him all the best going forward. He’s been a great teammate.
Q: What will you miss most about him?
LS: Well, definitely not the long debriefs! I think he’s good at that but, kidding aside, he’s just been a great team player and someone that that’s been really easy to work alongside It’s just been fun. He’s a big talent, extremely professional and I think his technical understanding as well, for the car and all that is great. He’s been a great member of the team and someone that that I’ve really enjoyed working alongside. It’s definitely been fun.
Q: Carlos, same question to you to kick things off. Sebastian.
Carlos SAINZ: First of all, wish him all the best now, in the future that he has ahead that I’m sure he’s going to enjoy a lot with kids and family. For me he was, since the beginning, since even before arriving to Formula 1, a great role model. I was privileged enough to be simulator driver when he was at his peak in Red Bull, winning the Championships. I could see how professional he was, and it gave me a very good insight into it how you need to behave, or how do you need to be, to be a successful Formula 1 driver like he was. I remember those years very well. He always had kind words for me, stop and have a chat with me, and give me some advice. He’s a great role model as these guys have said already, and he’s ambassador for the sport, but not only for sport but I think also for a younger generation that is coming through, and a type of career that you would look up to no? Always getting on well with all the teams, with everyone. Everyone in the paddock loves him, you know? You will not hear someone speaking bad about Seb. I think this year speaks about his personality. He’s, alive as a human being, not only as a driver, and I think we will miss him. But I hope that we can see him back in the paddock also helping the sport to develop in certain areas that I think he’s very vocal about recently. And I hope that he can keep giving us a hand in that in that side.
Q: And bringing it onto this weekend in Hungary. Do you and Ferrari fancy your chances this weekend?
CS: Yeah, I think this year we fancy our chances in every circuit that we go to. Honestly, the competitiveness of the car is definitely not an issue this year. We are competitive everywhere we go to. Sometimes it’s true that in race pace or in in some qualis, Red Bull seem to be a bit quicker. In others, we are quicker and it’s a great fight. But yeah, I go into every weekend thinking we can win it. And this is no other one. So is the target is the same.
Q: After hiccups at both of the last two races. How much does Ferrari need a clean weekend this weekend?
CS: We need it. But everyone needs a clean weekend, I think. We all strive for clean weekends, it’s just that in Formula 1, they are more difficult to get than what people think. And yes, we have a very competitive car. It’s true that we have some weaknesses to address with reliability, and everything. But it’s still a long year ahead. We have something like nine, 10 races, I don’t know exactly, and I think if there’s anything I’ve seen this year, it’s that anything can happen in every race. You know, it’s been such an up and down year for everyone. Even if the top four seems to be consistent, then the outcome of the weekend is not always as you expect. There’s still a lot to play for and a lot to go for.
Q: Yuki coming to you. How much will you miss Sebastien Vettel?
Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, to be honest, with him just we have experience just last two years, probably. After I step up to Formula 1. And yeah, he’s a great personality guy. And he’s definitely also a good ambassador for Formula 1. Yeah, I’m really lucky that I’m able to run close to him, especially Aston Martin, and AlphaTauri are quite close to each other this year. So, I learned a lot of things from him, when I’m driving behind him or even in front of him, whatever. We’ve had a chat a couple of times, so yeah, I mean, he’s definitely… you know, for me, it’s a bit sad but at the same time, was really lucky, and hope he can have an enjoyable time in Formula 1 for the rest of the season.
Q: And can we have a quick word about the upgrades that your team introduced in France last weekend? Do you feel you’ve taken a step forward?
YT: I was driving the old-spec for FP1 in Paul Ricard and I swapped into the new floor for FP2. I felt a clear difference in terms of the general grip, I would say, especially towards high-speed corner. Definitely it was positive, just we struggled a little bit to put it all together as the car balance. It was car balance we struggled to kind of have an ideal balance, but I was still happy that I felt like clear difference. So just looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of data from Paul Ricard, so yeah, I think we have good confidence that we can put it all together this week.
Q: George, thanks for waiting coming to you up. Can we get your reaction first of all to Sebastien Vettel retirement?
George RUSSELL: Such an inspiration and such a humble bloke I think. As Carlos said, nobody’s got a bad word to say about Seb. He’s good fun to be around. So I’m sure he’s going to be looking forward to, firstly the last half of the season, but everything he’s got planned for the future: family, kids wife and I’m sure he’s not going to stop and… as I said, inspiration.
Q: And George, we saw a great result for you and Mercedes at Paul Ricard. Do you believe that you’re now close enough to the front runners to win a race if everything falls for you?
GR: We’re definitely closing that gap, there’s no doubt, but the four cars ahead of us certainly have the pace advantage. There’s no doubts about that. But I think, as a team, we’re slowly closing the gap. Hopefully after the summer break, we’ll add some extra things to the car, but as does everybody, so it’s not going to be straightforward. We still believe we can probably fight for victories at some point this season. But I don’t think we’ll probably ever have the car that will be outright quickest.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Question for Max and for Carlos. One more race to go to the summer holidays. Max, you have a 68-point lead and no-one’s ever let that slip and not been World Champion at the end of the season. So, the question to you is how comfortable and relaxed will you be as you lie on the beach? Or will you be getting a little bit nervous because it ain’t over till it’s over? And Carlos, what will you be doing in the summer? And what will Ferrari be doing in the summer to think right: how do we get back and what areas we need to get back at Red Bull to try and make it our Championship?
MV: I think if you know me, first of all, I will not be laying on the beach. And second of all, I don’t really care about the points gap. Because for me, it’s all about trying to be perfect every single weekend. And it’s not something that once you have that gap that you start to relax or something. I mean, I still want to win more races. And that’s what we’ll try to do as a team.
CS: Well, I think it is clear for Ferrari what we need to do, which is to win those races, that Max wants to win and get it on board because obviously getting those 25 points makes quite a big difference in the point swing. I think yeah, there’s still a lot of things that could happen up there at the front. I think there’s always a great battle going on between the two teams, which I think it’s going to keep going until the end of the year. It is true that maybe at some point we need a bit of help from Red Bull in reliability or DNFs but even without those, statistically if it’s open, its open, and you cannot give up. I think this is number one rule in sport: until it’s impossible, you need to keep believing and you need to keep trying to win everything you can, and trying to keep yourself in the fight. Until a statistic is no longer in your in your power. Until then, we’re going to keep trying, we’re going to keep developing as a team, we’re going to keep improving because whatever we can learn this year, it can also be useful for the next few years.
Q: Unlike Max, will you be on the beach?
CS: Oh, definitely!Yeah. Big fan of the beach and big fan of the sea, sport, but at the same time, some quality time with family, friends. Not Max, I will not see him I think – but I see him enough here. Who knows maybe we find each other in Ibiza or somewhere, Mallorca.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agence EFE) Question for Carlos. Carlos, taking account your great moment of shape, that the car is looking very good, in your great performance last Sunday, how confident are you to be celebrating on Sunday your second victory?
CS: Confident that we can fight for that win this weekend, and that we can perform a solid weekend like we did in Austrian and France. Then obviously, to get it done. And it’s another thing, and we know how complex, I think recent races are. A great example that you can be super competitive, get everything very well done but then to win you need everything to fall into one piece and this is a complex side of Formula 1. But the target is to do so. I’m feeling every race… I’m feeling more comfortable in the car. I think race pace France was good, in Austria too; the qualifying pace in France was good, especially in Q2. So, I think we have the ingredients, we just need to put it all together and hopefully celebrate on Sunday. But yeah, let’s see.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi) – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Max. Before, Sergio said, you have two or three things to try during this weekend, because you lack a little bit of performance in comparison with the Ferrari. I don’t want to ask you exactly what you are doing, but I would like to know if it’s something related to the tyre management . In which area do you think that you are lacking the pace? Thank you.
MV: Well, I think there are always ideas you know, you want to try out in free practice. So that’s what we’ll try to do again. I mean, it’s nothing drastic or something, it’s just general set-up directions you want to look at, to be honest.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) A question to George. We’ve heard about Vettel as driver – but could you talk about what you’ll miss working with him as a fellow GPDA director?
GR: I think we all know the intellect that Sebastian has, and sharing quite a few meetings with him, behind the scenes, talking with the FIA or F1, or whoever it may be, you do learn how much general knowledge he has; how much Formula 1 knowledge he has. And I’m sure that also goes into the technical side. So, I think it is kind of quite inspiring to see how he conducts himself and his business. And you know, above all, he’s just a great bloke, a great human being. And I think in the world today, we lack a lot of people like Seb, so yeah, for sure he’ll be missed.
Q: (Vándor Éva – HVG) George, it’s good to see you back in Hungary and it was good to see that photo of you from 2009, I guess, with Lewis alongside with your podium shot from last week. How do you feel? What do you think when you look at those pictures?
GR: It’s a pleasant reminder, I think to all of us, that time is flying. And I remember that day like yesterday, you know, meeting Lewis, he was a superhero to me back then. And as I said, that was 13 years ago now but it felt like yesterday and you need to seize every opportunity, every moment every day, every race for us and just make the most of that one life you have – because it goes quick. So a photograph like that is a reminder for me.
Q: (Barna Zsoldos – Nemzeti Sport) Question to Max, Carlos and George. Do you remember when was the first time you came to Hungary, as a kid or as a junior driver? And what are your best memories from Hungary on and off the track? And is it an exciting prospect that you can add another racetrack to your winning list – obviously for Max and Carlos.
MV: First time, I guess end of 2013 or something, bit of testing in a Formula Renault car at the time. Yeah, it was here. It was good. I enjoyed it. Food was very nice, did a bit of sightseeing in Budapest. Good memories in general every single year when I come here. I’m always very happy to come back, I even come back sometimes do some private testing and stuff because I think it’s an amazing track. And about potentially winning a race here, I mean, of course you tried to win every single Grand Prix. This one hasn’t really been done yet. But we’ll see what we can do.
Q: What makes this track so special?
MV: It’s just a very technical track and if you make a mistake in one corner, especially in Sector Two; then you’re normally not well positioned for the next, so it’s really like a good combination of corners in a row.
CS: I think I was here back in 2010 for first time. Testing Formula BMW. And I remember coming to the sort of tracks when testing, thinking how I used to see my heroes, Formula 1, driving at this track and what a privilege it was to drive, even if it was a small single seater in a proper Formula 1 track. And those first laps were always very special because you’re driving a proper Formula 1 track. I was coming straight from go-karting. And this was one of those circuits that you feel you’re closer to Formula 1, because you’re driving the track, and it was great fun, always a track that I’ve loved, always a track that I enjoyed as a driver. Maybe tricky for racing, but cool for qualifying, for sure. Even racing hasn’t been that bad over the last few years. And I don’t remember the rest of the question.
Q: Let’s just follow up on that. Do you think the racing will be better this weekend? With the with the ’22 cars?
CS: Yes, it will. It should be. Every race so far has been a bit better. Sometimes a lot better, others a bit.
Q: Do you do you fancy your chances of a win?
CS: I always fancy my chances and I will try my best, like always, to get it.
GR: Yeah, I think one of my best memories here was driving an F1 car for the first time back in 2017. And I just remember, just feeling the forces that an F1 car produced. I couldn’t quite comprehend the speed coming from GP3 at the time. It was incredibly hot, almost 40°C, and my eyes were totally bloodshot, I think it was from the forces, sweating 24/7. And that was just a real taste of what it was to, to drive an F1 car and again, gave me the motivation to say this is what I want to do always. And obviously, as the other two say, we’re here to fight for victory every weekend. So nothing changed there.
Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) Question to Max. As this is the last race before the summer break, it might be a good moment to look back a little bit. Do you feel that in the first half of the season, the new technical regulations with the ground effect have lived up to the expectations? Have they improved racing to the extent that was expected beforehand? And secondly, if there’s one element that can be improved, what would it be?
MV: I think following has been quite a bit better, so that’s positive. But of course, the weight of the cars, they’re extremely heavy, which I think it’s not great, which I don’t really see a quick solution for. But overall the following and stuff has been a bit better. And I mean, it’s difficult to expect really, how much better it would be but for me at least you have a better chance of racing, but then again, on some tracks is still very hard to follow. But that’s also in combination with tyres overheating and stuff. So there are a few things to look at.
Q: (Maurits Kappetijn – F1Maximaal.nl) Question for Max. This weekend, the orange fans are over there again, on the circuit. The last time we’ve seen these scenes was in Austria. To what extent do you think your Oranje Army will collectively behave this time?
MV: I think in general, they all behave quite well, just a few individuals didn’t. So I hope that’s different this time.
Q: (Andrea Tajthi – MotorsportMania.hu) A question for all the drivers if you could change only one rule in Formula 1, which would it be?
LS: Well, I think one of the main things is lighter cars. I think the weight of the cars has just become too heavy and I would like to see that be improved going forward in the coming years. There are many things for sure that we can change and do better but off the top of my head that’s something that I think would be nice to improve to make the cars a little bit more enjoyable and nimble to drive.
YT: I don’t know but probably penalty points, probably. Currently I’m in P1! So something like that. Most of things I get in, like, free practice, traffic things, so probably those things you know. I think we discussed it last time in the Drivers’ Briefing. Have to be more probably big things, if I get like more penalty points. And yeah so far I’m having a quite a lot so yeah that’s it.
GR: How many do you have?
YT: I have eight points
Q: George, how about you?
GR: It’s so difficult. You can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s, you know, as Lance and Max said, lighter cars would be great, but you can’t have everything in the world. The reason we’re heavier is because of safety. So yeah, I don’t know. I really can’t pick one, because there’s too many compromises. Faster cars.
CS: I was thinking all this time while they were answering and I couldn’t come up with something interesting or something that is possible. I have a lot of ideas but they are all quite impossible…
Q: Give us one.
CS: I would like to try a race where we all have the same grip available in our cars, just to try, just to see. Sam speed and same grip available.
GR: An F1 car has enough downforce to drive upside down, so who can drive the slowest, I guess, upside down before falling off?
CS: You can try that. The weight, but you would have to think about the safety. The penalty points, they’re all good ideas. But are they possible? Probably not.
Q: Max you touched on lighter cars. Anything else?
MV: Less races.
CS: Especially from now on, no?
Q: What’s the magic number?
MV: Twelve. No, I think, like, 16. Just pick all the good tracks. Leave all the others out.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) One for everyone. There was a bit of talk earlier this year about the dangers of ingesting brake dust. Just wondering if any of you ever had any symptoms from that kind of thing? Any concerns about it? Or is it not really something that’s crossed your mind is a problem so maybe Max first?
MV: No. Just depends how you design your drums, basically, Some have it designed in a way where it comes up more into your face, which I have not experienced. So again, I think you can just limit the design options, you know, it has to go more outward or whatever, which I think we have anyway. If I see brake dust, it always goes out left or right, so it’s OK.
LS: No, it’s been OK.
YT: No, no issue.
GR: I’ve had no issue. I know a lot of people have, but again, like Max said, we’ve got different design philosophies, so I think it’s down to the FIA not to give teams a possibility to do something that has an effect of drivers health and safety.
Q: (Niharika Ghorpade – Sportskeeda) To all five drivers. Sebastian leaves a huge legacy behind on track and off track if there’s one thing you had to take out from his legacy, what would it be?
GR: Pretty impressed with the beard he’s got going at the moment. I struggle a bit to grow a beard. As I said, I think, you know, we’re all competitive animals, we all want to win, we all want to win as many championships as possible, but as I said, nobody’s got a bad word to say about Seb in the paddock and I think that’s probably a legacy you’d probably be quite… He’s probably more proud of that than he is of his of his on track successes.
YT: Like knowledge about the car I think. He knows about the car, opposite of me! So probably those things.
CS: I don’t know, it’s many things, mainly as a human being, a lot, for sure, of his legacy that he’s left in the paddock, of his career, you could argue pole to win conversion, speed. I think he’s always been great, so I don’t know, many things I could take from Seb, many stats, many, many things. It’s a pretty idyllic career.
LS: His success on track and you know the fact that he’s a great person off track. He is, you know, a real gentleman and he’s done a lot for the sport and his success on track has been incredible over the years.
MV: His hair. It grew back magically. I like that. I wish I had that.
DRIVER GROUP 2: Daniel RICCIARDO (McLaren), Alex ALBON (Williams), Esteban OCON (Alpine), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas), Valtteri BOTTAS (Alfa Romeo)
Q: Daniel, let’s start by talking about your former team-mate, if we could. Sebastian Vettel and his impending retirement, how big a hole will he leave behind? What are your memories of working with him?
Daniel RICCIARDO: It’s, yeah, it’s in a way, sad of course, because you’re losing a bit of a legend of the sport really. And yeah, I personally spent spend some time alongside him, which was, for sure, a privilege. So yeah, it’s one of those ones: you’re sad, but also happy for him now to start chapter two of his life. I learned a lot in 2014 alongside him, and even before that, you know, when I was a reserve driver and just being around the team and watching how he would work it was just always interesting. He had a lot of good traits and a way to get people behind him and rally but also, you know, be very direct and yeah, it was cool. Just a very, very driven individual. And, yeah, I think we’ll obviously certainly miss him. But yeah, obviously wish him well,
Q: What stood out about him when he was in the other car, the other Red Bull?
DR: I mean, like, the simple thing was he was fast. But he was just a very in tune driver, very knowledgeable about the car, the team, the sport, he just lived and breathed it, you know, it was everything and he was just switched on. I know that sounds kind of simple but he just knew everything that was going on. So you could never count him out. And I think, yeah, just his knowledge of the sport and obviously his experience as well was, it was cool, very valuable to be in that environment.
Q: Quick word, if we could, on the upgrades that you guys introduced in France last weekend. Where does the car feel better now?
DR: I think it was just a step. A step in terms of grip. I think we found a little bit more… I know it sounds general, but just in general, like this a little bit more and in places, like corners around the track, in general. It was just a step, a step in the right direction. Yeah, that’s, that’s the honest answer. And I think specifically, yeah, we know where we still have to improve. I don’t think that’s changed. I think we just got a little bit closer.
Q: Thank you, Daniel. Best of luck this weekend. Alex, let’s come to you next. Your thoughts on Sebastian Vettel?
Alex ALBON: I’d say firstly, I maybe know him a little bit less than the older guys. But no, no, no, no, I’m not saying Daniel’s old! But I got to know him more and more, especially, actually, this year. You can see what he’s been able to do on circuit. He’s one of the very few multiple world champions. And there’s a reason for that. And I think, as Daniel touched upon, you can see that he’s switched on on the track, but also even off the track. And you can see everything he’s doing outside of the sport is also equally very impressive and inspiring. I’m sure as he goes on into his ‘dad future’, he’s going to look forward to that. But I’m also very interested to see what he does outside of that. He’s just got an Instagram account I’ve heard, which is very exciting. So I have to follow him.
Q: A quick word on this weekend. Hungary was a great race for Williams last year. What are you expecting this time around?
AA: Yeah, it’s been a circuit that’s gone well for Williams historically. Obviously there was a little bit of weather and carnage to help that last year, but equally you know in qualifying as well they’ve gone well. We’ve obviously got the new package which was going well in Paul Ricard. I felt like it was a good step forward for the team. Driving wise, as well, it felt better. And in Hungary you do need a good balance around here. It’s not an easy circuit, it’s very technical. So hopefully we can get on top of that early into the weekend. It looks like it’s going to be wet on Saturday as well, which might throw a bit of something into the mix. And I think this weekend it’s a little bit more towards qualifying and getting a good qualifying results and trying to hold on from there. So that’s where the focus will be.
Q: Do you welcome the rain?
AA: I always welcome the rain, yes. Rain dances.
Q: Thank you and best of luck to you this weekend. Esteban, coming to you now. When we think of Sebastian Vettel, what do you think are his standout qualities?
Esteban OCON: Well, first of all, I’m very sad to see him leaving. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and that’s not the thought I had, you know when I spoke to him about his future and everything. So, you know, I hope he will enjoy retirement and that he will be happy with everything he does. I’m sure he will. But I think on our case, he was a great ambassador, I think of all drivers, and he has raised his voice you know, and when there was concern for our safety and for any sorts of things that he didn’t like, you know, in regards to drivers, and yeah, on that regard I hope he doesn’t stay too far away from the paddock.
Q: Thank you, lovely words. Let’s bring it on to Hungary. Very happy memories for you from last year. Does it feel different returning to a track where you’ve won before?
EO: I mean, there’s a lot of emotions, you know, that comes back. And a lot of great memories, you know, when I cross the gates with the Hungaroring banner coming in, doing the track walk, and of course you remember the good times that you had, that I had last year with all the team and yeah, what a time it was. It has flown, the time, you know, it’s already been one year. But yeah, it’s definitely one of my favourite tracks and Budapest in general holds a special place in my heart.
Q: Best of luck this weekend. Thank you, Kevin, coming to you. How will you remember Sebastien Vettel the racing driver?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: Well, I think, you know, as a legend of our sport. Before I came to Formula 1, he was certainly one of the drivers that I was really looking up to and kind of taking inspiration from. In the beginning of his Formula 1 career, he was, you know, very quick and successful. And he was so young when he was successful it was pretty special, and he dominated the sport for a long time. He’s a real legend. So, you know, I too wish him all the best for the future.
Q: And, Kev, a word on this weekend, you’ve got a much upgraded car coming into the weekend. What are you hoping for?
KM: I hope for a lot more performance, but with these upgrades sometimes it takes a bit of time to really understand the characteristics and the differences in the car, until you really unlock the full potential. You know, we’ve seen with the car that we’ve been running all year, we’ve just been continuously finding more performance. And, you know, I think also the other side of that is that the teams that have brought upgrades didn’t seem to find all that much. So, you know, I think it’s always exciting to see new parts on the car and it looks different and you’re always hoping there’s going to be a lot of performance, but I’m not expecting the big picture to change too much. So we’ll see.
Q: Best of luck with them. Thank you, Kevin. Valtteri, thanks for waiting. So you’ve had many battles with Sebastian Vettel over the years. What kind of a rival was he?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Always a really good driver to race against and to race with him. There’s always a certain respect and you can kind of count on him that he’s going to race hard but usually fair. So I really enjoyed the battles. And overall as well just such a nice guy, you know, to get to know and one of those drivers that is not afraid of speaking up about things, which is really, really cool. And he’s really using the platform as well for the right things. So yeah, my respect.
Q: Let’s talk car pace. Briefly, you’ve had three frustrating races since Canada, what have been the issues with the car, especially in France last weekend?
VB: I really hope the French Grand Prix was like just a one-off dip in the performance. And we, in qualifying and in the race, didn’t have the pace that we were hoping and expecting. I think the core reason it’s not having much upgrades, actually, nothing since Barcelona and the teams around us they’ve been able to develop a bit more. We finally have something here. So I really hope that gives us a bit of a boost.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Great to hear your thoughts on Sebastian Vettel’s impending retirement and this question goes out to all our five drivers. Obviously, you watch the driver market and you’ll see that there is a seat available at Aston Martin, there is a job vacancy. And whilst I’m sure you’re all very happy at the teams you’re at at the moment, is there anything that will interest you as a driver with ambition and prospects in Formula 1 about a job at Aston Martin and being the replacement for Sebastian Vettel?
DR: Yep. Did you hear any of my interviews last week, Crofty?
Q; (David Croft – Sky Sports) I did. I heard the bits about you not retiring from Formula 1 and wanting to stay at McLaren. But as I said, obviously you’re very happy with your teams, but is there anything that would interest you about that job?
DR: I mean, obviously it’s nothing against that but, as I said last week, my future is clear and it’s here. So, yeah.
AA: Amazing question, as always from Crofty. No, obviously, Aston Martin, they’re a great team. They’re clearly expanding as a team as well. But, you know, the focus right now has to be on this year. And we’ll leave it at that.
EO: Well, I’ve been there already. If you look at my Twitter account from 2018, it says Aston Martin Aramco, whatever! So I’ve been racing for the team, basically, back then. I’m good where I am, Alpine, at the moment, but yeah, I know the team very well and I know what they’re capable of.
KM: Yeah, you know, I’m contracted for next year and very happy at Haas.
VB: I never believed I could say this, but I have a contract. I’m good.
Q: (Annett Johanics – Origo.hu) A question for Daniel. Do you think that based on this year’s performance, you need to prove something to people that you deserve to be where you are? And are you still happy? And can you be positive and not get in a loop?
DR: Firstly, nice t-shirt. Great show. Shout out to Stranger Things. I’m halfway through the very last episode. So it’s a good one. Well, so far it is.
EO: She beats Vecna. Oh, sorry, buddy!
DR: (Laughs). Well, you know, this sport, it’s one of those ones where you’re as good as your last race and in a way unless you’re winning there’s always something to prove, whether it’s to fans, supporters or just yourself and I think most importantly it’s first and foremost to myself. That’s why I keep doing it. Because, you know, I still believe I can do it and do it at the highest level. So, always trying to prove that for me. And then, yeah, you can absolutely still find happiness. And, of course, this sport, probably more than most, is one, I’ve touched on it before, where your win ratio is so low, the percentage is so low, as opposed to a team sport, it’s probably 50%. So you kind of have to deal with that and understand that you’re not going to win every weekend but you can still set yourself other targets and other ways to certainly find happiness and fulfilment. There’s no high like winning, but there are certainly still ways you can do that. So I’m still going through it and I am enjoying it. Of course, it can be an emotional sport as well and emotions around higher times and for sure frustration and things like that. But I still love it more than anything.
Q: (Jon Noble – Motorsport.com) To all of you, on the F1 22 rules. The top three teams are fairly set in stone right now but behind it you’re all part of teams that on the good days get through to Q3 and on the bad days you get dumped out in Q1. How exciting, intense and stressful is that scenario? And secondly, why do you think we’ve got such uncertainty this year? Is it technical regs? Is it the cost cap? Is it just the fact we’re in a new era of rules?
VB: It’s exciting. It’s definitely like every single lap in the qualifying in the midfield matters, you know, you’re either in or out of the next session and I’m enjoying it. The whole qualifying you really need to nail the laps. And it’s the same in racing, it’s so close that it’s always good battling, good racing. And for me, it’s also quite different in terms of the race strategy, how much more it actually matters in the midfield, you know, because we were battling with so many cars, instead of just one or two cars, which I maybe had in the past. So I’m enjoying it. And I feel it’s a combination of the cost gap, but also the new regulations that are quite a lot more restricted in terms of what you can do. So it’s clearly working and I hope that, you know, the midfield teams will eventually get closer to the top as well.
KM: Yeah, it’s really nice that, you know… It seems like it’s very close and every weekend, you can go into the weekend thinking that you can have a good result. You know, it doesn’t seem like it’s easy to fall behind too much. So I think it’s better for us in the midfield, and I guess, you know, better racing as well for the people watching.
EO: I think it’s been like that also in 2017 and ’18 really. You still had a top three teams and then the other guys, you know, fighting in the back. I feel we’re closer to where we were from back then but it’s still too far. And that needs to be closer to properly have a different podium, you know, different winners at times. We always see the same guys. So yeah, definitely the way hopefully is going to be forward for those midfield teams and I hope that with the cost gap and everything the same rules for a bit you know that the tunnel is going to close, you know, at the top.
AA: Yeah, I would say also that on top of everything it’s just so new these cars, everyone’s learning the cars. It’s very hard at the moment to hit FP1 with a good car. It always seems like some weekends you nail it and that’s the weekends that you’re fighting, and for us that’s more Q2, but at the same time, we know there are other weekends that are a bit more tricky. And that’s why you’re seeing this flip-flop of cars one weekend doing better than others. And if we knew why we would we would not be up and down as much, so it is a lot of fighting and as you see the philosophies are different as well. You know, there’s maybe two or three standout differences in cars, I’d say. And I’m sure that plays a part into what circuits suit your car and what have you. It’s good. I enjoy it. I think for us, as well, we want to be a little bit more towards these guys. But it’s still good fun.
Q: Hi, Alex, when you don’t hit the ground running in FP1 Is it harder to recover in 2022 than in the past?
AA: I wouldn’t say so. But I would say that you often have different compromises this year. So, you spend so many years with a car that you kind of build on. You know at these circuits that you need to do this and this with the set-up, because that’s what it’s been historically. This year, with such different cars, it’s almost like a new slate where you end up driving and then you suddenly realise the limitations of the car and then it’s always a response. I think the more times you struggle, let’s say, it’s easier then to figure it out quickly and bounce back strongly. You can almost understand when you do a tricky FP1, you can sometimes relate it back to three, four races ago, it felt a little bit like that. We need to do those set-up changes that we did back then. And in those ways you can bounce back quite quickly. But it takes time. And I think it’s the first year of these new cars so it’s a bit longer than normal.
DR: I think everything’s been said? It’s fun. Obviously when it’s tight it is fun, of course. It’d be more fun fighting for the wins, the podiums, but the battles we’re having are good. The unpredictability obviously is not fun when you’re on the other end, but it keeps it fresh, and it’s cool when you get out on top. But I think because they are so new we’re still learning and teams naturally design their cars to have some strengths in some places and others in… so like, fast flowing circuits, you know, you’ve got a couple of teams that are going to be there, and on the tight twisty ones, you know, a couple others. So now after doing like half a season, you have a little bit of understanding of maybe who’s going to be where on what circuit, but there are still some curveballs, you know, some weekends where you’re still ‘OK, yeah, we still haven’t completely learned everything that there is to learn yet with these with these cars’. So we’ll keep going on and see how it goes. And as Esteban said, hopefully we can all be fighting further out the front. And that’s really the dream, for everyone to have a chance to win or a podium, obviously, on merit but that would be cool.
Q: (Panagiatis Seitanidis – Car Magazine, Greece) Given the fact that everybody talks about Seb’s retirement. I know all you guys have a lot to give in F1, still, but have you ever given any thought to how would life be after Formula 1. Racing somewhere else? Or on a beach or with kids or whatever?
DR: I’ll go! On a beach, for sure. The first word that I thought was, life would be less chaotic. But yeah, I haven’t given it any real thought. I think the biggest thing that we get used to is the schedule, you know, and always working to a schedule and a time. And you know, I think that would be the biggest change, I would imagine. I’m sure life for everyone would still be busy, you know, whether that’s starting a family or whatever, but yeah, just the schedule that is in F1, and now with the weekends and how many races we have and other events and appearances. I think that’s the biggest change. You know, I think everything would feel like it would slow down quite a lot.
AA: So for me right now, no, I’m not looking too far into the future, into retirement, I guess. But I’m sure you have to look at it a little bit. But not right now. But yeah, I’ll look for, I don’t know, a cottage in the Cotswolds or something? That would be very nice.
EO: No, it’s still too far for me, hopefully. Yeah, I don’t want to think about retirement at the moment. But yeah, I mean, after Formula 1 I guess you have so many cool series to try as well. So many different cars to experience. I see Le Mans is shaping up quite impressively at the moment with a lot of cool brands that are joining. Of course, I’m not looking at that at all. I’m fully into Formula 1, but that looks to be quite a cool series, I don’t know, in 15 years or 10 years to try.
KM: Yeah, I mean, last year, kind of showed what that life is like. It was pretty good! I think it showed, you know… I came out of Formula 1 and I had a lot of things going on, you know. I was very happy that I had kept a life going outside of Formula 1 while I was in Formula 1 last time. I still raced, I raced a lot of things. I did Le Mans with my dad as a team-mate, that was a lot of fun and, you know, raced an IndyCar, raced at Daytona in sports cars and I had a lot of fun. That was for sure. And I didn’t feel like I was missing out on Formula 1. But when I watched the races it hurt a little bit that I knew I wasn’t going to do that again. So, you know, I think once I retire for good, then I will always miss driving these cars and racing these cars. I think it is really a massive privilege and last year kind of showed or highlighted how big a privilege it is. Once you kind of lose it and get it back, it’s very cool to be a Formula 1 driver.
VB: Also not really for me yet, but eventually, you know, I’m sure there’s so many cool things, opportunities to do and yeah, but I don’t think about it too much…
EO: I want you to teach me to rally.
VB: Of course, we’ll do that! Rallying is good fun. For sure, after F1 I’ll keep driving something that’s for sure. Because I just love driving.
Q: (Andrea Tajthi – MotorsportMania.hu) For all the drivers: as it’s a quite long and busy season this year, how exhausting was the first part for you? And which was your most difficult race?
EO: I think the hardest race to start with was probably Ricard on my side, so the last race. Why? Because it was so warm, actually. The whole weekend was very, very hot. And yeah, it is pretty tough, you know, to end the first part of the season. I think we’re arriving into the summer break at the right time. I mean, we can see it on the faces of the mechanics, the engineers, you know, they start to have more and more holes around that part. So yeah, it’s the longest first part of the season that we had for a while. And yeah, it’s going to be good to recharge the batteries pretty soon, but yeah, the hot ones definitely are, for us drivers, the toughest races
VB: The toughest one? Yeah, I think Paul Ricard was pretty hot. Even Miami was pretty tough. And yeah, I agree with Esteban, it’s good timing for the break. So we’re ready for a bit of a mini-holiday after this one.
Q: (Laurie Vermeersch – F1only.fr) Daniel, you finished P9 in France and you said that you were not satisfied with this result. You also said that you learned a lot these last days. Are you optimistic in Hungary as it is a bit different from France?
DR: Yeah, I wouldn’t go as direct as saying I wasn’t satisfied. But it was more… I mean, ninth was decent, but it wasn’t a race where I’m going to go out and celebrate Sunday night. But after actually looking over the race, and as you mentioned, the days that passed since Sunday, there were actually probably a few more positives than maybe I immediately realised. I think as well, you know, straight after the races. you’re hot, you’re still just feeling the race, if you know what I mean. I was having a good battle with Esteban and I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I can hold him off’. And then obviously, he got me. So yeah, just you know, being in a battle and not winning a battle obviously, I guess I would have wanted to hold on to that. So probably just a little bit, feeling the emotion of the race as well. But yeah, I think we did pick up some positives from it. I think we learned more about the new package. You know, that’s one I touched on before. I think generally it’s a little bit better everywhere, but I still don’t think we… I think maybe Kevin was saying it, you need time with these packages, you know. You need to really execute everything out of it, or extract everything out of it, so yeah, confident that we can get a bit more this weekend, and then we’ll see if this track plays to us or not.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) A question to Daniel and to Valtteri. Do you think it’s important that the next GDPA director is as strong-minded as Sebastian? And who do you look at of your fellow drivers that you think would be a good fit to replace him?
DR: Maybe we’ll see if he wants to continue! I don’t know, he’s certainly done a good job. Seb, he’s a guy that, you know, a lot of the time just says it how it is. And I don’t mean… That’s not in an aggressive way. He’s just very honest and direct. And when we’re on topics like safety then we don’t need to beat around the bush. So I think his character is really good for that position. So yeah, we’ll see. It’s obviously very new news for us. So, yeah, I guess we’ll discuss it internally and have a think about who’s a good replacement? But yeah, he was great for us.
VB: I feel like it’s quite hard to replace Seb in that kind of role, because of the way he is, you know. He’s really straightforward and direct and doesn’t go around things. He just says things as they are and questions many things loudly, so I hope he continues. I’m not sure if he’s keen but it would be great if you can continue.