Monthly Archives: October 2015

2015 Mexican Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

_r6t9046_0

Here’s the official transcript from the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS
1 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
2 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)

TV UNILATERAL

Nico, first of all congratulations, your fourth pole in a row. Qualifying is proving very strong for you at the moment, what was the key today?

Nico Rosberg (referred hereafter as NR):- I don’t really have a precise explanation. I just felt good all weekend. I’ve been quick in all different sessions and found a good balance in qualifying. So thanks to my engineers in the team I was able to push and got a really good lap in.

Thank you. Lewis, if I can come to you. You looked good in Q2, you were on top in Q2, but that 50th pole is proving tricky. Were there any mistakes in Q3 on your final lap?

Lewis Hamilton (referred hereafter as LH):- Not really, no. This weekend Nico has been quick and I’ve just been chipping away at it. There were a couple of moments where the car felt pretty spectacular but otherwise generally there are some areas where, for sure, I could improve both in my driving and also with the set-up. But we have quite a bit of a different set-up this weekend, so perhaps the avenue I went might not be the perfect one for qualifying but it’ll be good for the race.

Thank you. Sebastian, you tried everything, [but] Mercedes [were] too quick today. Was the drop in temperature in that final session a factor at all for you?

Sebastian Vettel (referred hereafter as SV):- I don’t think so. In the end we were hoping for it to be a bit closer but in the end it wasn’t. I think already already in Q2, in Q1 to be fair, with the hard tyre they looked very, very quick, so it was difficult. I tried everything. I was very happy with the first attempt in Q3.

On the second one I probably pushing too hard and I didn’t go any faster. Yeah, I don’t think it is fair to blame it on the conditions or the track. In the end they were just a sniff too quick. But who knows what happens tomorrow. Seems to be a fun circuit. Finally it starts to rubber in a bit. Yesterday it was very slippery. It’s good fun and it’s nice to see so many people coming, so I think it should be exciting for all of us tomorrow.

Thank you. Nico, returning to you, how do you turn this into a win tomorrow and how badly do you want it to turn into a win tomorrow?

NR:- It’s a good start, for sure, starting from pole. It’s going to be a long run down to turn one, so it’s going to be an exciting battle. Then I’m sure we have a good race car. It will be interesting tyre-wise. There was some stuff going on on Friday, which is going to be not so easy to handle in the race but we’re prepared well, so looking forward to it.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Nico, congratulations, you’ve looked comfortable all weekend, it this ‘Angry Nico’ fighting back?

NR:- No, definitely not. There’s no difference, it’s attack like always. It’s three more races to go, great to be here in Mexico, great track, I really enjoy driving here, so business as usual.

Q: Lewis, P2 hasn’t proved too much of a problem for you in recent times, there’s a very long run down to Turn One as well. Is that your target for the race tomorrow?

LH:- Actually coming into the weekend it’s one of the best spots to start, second or third because it’s a long, long way down to Turn One. Just as in Russia. I don’t know if it’s longer than Russia but I’m quite happy with my spot. As you’ve said, the races have always been proved to be quite good ones for me so I’m excited for tomorrow and, yeah…

Q: Sebastian, it’s looked close this weekend. Did you think pole was on?

SV:- Well, now we’ve just finished qualifying… no! If we talk about another tenth I think it’s always normal for us to say “yeah, one-tenth here or there, could have squeezed a bit more,” but I was reasonably happy with my lap and I think we were missing four-tenths in the end so the gap was probably too big. We have to be fair and say congratulations to Nico who drove a very good qualifying and put in a very strong lap.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Seb. In your opinion, it will be possible tomorrow to match Mercedes considering your race pace especially with medium tyres?

SV:- Well, I can’t predict what’s going to happen but usually we’re always a bit stronger, compared to them, in the race. As Nico touched on with the tyres, could be crucial tomorrow, the circuit is very slippery and I expect it to be slippery again. There might be some rain overnight so might be a bit of a reset for the track. To answer your question, we will have to wait and see tomorrow – but I hope so.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) What happened at the end of qualifying, because everybody seemed to be slower than before?

NR:- I was a tenth off my (best) lap, I think, so it was a good lap, just not as good as the previous one.

SV:- Sounds like a good excuse! I did the same, I was a tenth off, it was a good lap, just not as good as before.

LH:- Yeah, I just wasn’t quicker on that lap.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) To all of you, we touched on altitude on Thursday. I just wondered if you’re feeling any physical effects after qualifying and in general, out and about in Mexico City?

LH:- No issues, it’s tough out there as usual and it will be interesting for the race tomorrow for sure with the altitude. It does make a difference. And otherwise, so far I’ve had the best time here, I had the best tacos last night and I’m going to go back and have them again tonight and tomorrow night and probably the next night as well. I’m enjoying my stay.

NR:- The only time I felt it was running round the track where for sure I had a higher heart rate on Thursday but in the car, not really, it’s been fine.

SV:- I think it’s fine, we have a very very long straight to rest so that helps. Other than that, I think it’s great for us, it’s exciting, a lot of people. I think the size of the grandstands here seem to be at least double to other places and still full so it makes it very special for us.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globo Esporte) Lewis and Nico, there’s no way not to ask you (this question) considering what we saw in the last few races; will there be any conversation between you both considering the start tomorrow?

NR:- It’s no different, you know, it’s always going to be a battle and what’s in the past is in the past and now we move forward, it doesn’t change.

LH:- The same as he’s just said.

SV:- Can you make sure you take both of you out so I can go through? Yes? No? I tried.

2015 Mexican Grand Prix Qualifying Review

mexico-3-470x263

But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the team to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

It was announced before qualifying that Jenson Button would not be taking part due to signal problems with his Honda engine; alongside the Honda engine misfiring. This is a great shame for Button who hasn’t had much running on the track either.

Also Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen will receive a five place grid penalty for changing his engine and also his gearbox that will be applied after the session has ended.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets with a time of 1.20.436, Sebastian Vettel was second, Lewis Hamilton was third, Valtteri Bottas was fourth and Daniil Kvyat was fifth. Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Fernando Alonso, Felipe Nasr, Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q2, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a lap time of 1.19.829 , Vettel was second fastest, Rosberg was third fastest, Bottas was fourth and Kvyat was fifth. Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q2, we lose Sainz Jr, Grosjean, Maldonado, Ericsson and Raikkonen.

During Q2, Kimi Raikkonen spins his car at Turn 1 bizarrely and manages to regain control of the car and carry on. However on team radio, Raikkonen states that he cannot not take any further part in qualifying due to problems with his brakes and also with the transmission on his Ferrari that will need to be investigated further by the team before the race tomorrow on Sunday.

But we do see spots of rain hitting the circuit, especially at the final corner which could see the Pole Position shoot out becoming even more exciting. The battle for Pole Position is on…

Nico Rosberg takes Pole Position for the Mexican GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg takes Pole Position for the Mexican GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q3, Rosberg takes his fifth Pole Position of this season, his fourth consecutive Pole in a row and his twentieth Pole of his career at the Mexican GP with a lap time of 1.19.480 and showing that he can still challenge Rosberg finished ahead of Hamilton who was 0.370 seconds behind Rosberg and also ahead of Bottas who did a super job to finish in third 0.370 seconds behind Rosberg.

Kvyat finished in fourth place 0.918 seconds behind Rosberg, Ricciardo finished in fifth 0.919 seconds behind Rosberg, Bottas finished in sixth 0.968 seconds behind Rosberg, Massa finished in seventh 1.087 seconds behind Rosberg, Verstappen finished in eighth 1.230 seconds behind Rosberg, Perez finished in ninth 1.236 seconds behind Rosberg and Hulkenberg finished in tenth place 1.308 seconds behind Rosberg.

During Q3, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battled hard on the track to claim Pole Position. However on his final run, Hamilton went wide during the Stadium section which may have cost him Pole.

But we did also see a battle between Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas with Hulkenberg’s engineer on his last lap of the session stating to his driver via the team radio; “You’re pushing, you’re pushing! Do not [let Bottas past], you’re on a timed lap now Nico. Shut up, I’ll tell you where the traffic is, you’re on a push lap.”

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend.

You cannot discount Vettel, Ricciardo or Kvyat even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to leapfrog in the Constructors Championship.

Hulkenberg, Massa and Perez could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain tomorrow? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know Who will win the championship after this race?

Let’s see what happens tomorrow on the Mexican circuit on race day tomorrow…

2015 Mexican Grand Prix Practice Review

mexico-3-470x263

Lewis Hamilton wins the United States Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. This meant that Hamilton secured his third world championship which is a fantastic achievement and well deserved after a great performance this season.

Also McLaren, Toro Rosso and Force India managed to secure points from the United States Grand Prix which is much needed for all the teams concerned.

Heading into the race weekend, it has been announced that Force India has requested an advance in payment in order to meet payments with their suppliers and avoid a repeat of what happened this season; even though they have lodged an EU complaint recently.

There are also rumours of Toro Rosso completing an engine deal with Ferrari; even though there have been rumours that this may not go ahead.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in FP1.

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Max Verstappen tops the timesheet with a time of 1.25.990 followed closely by Daniil Kvyat with a gap of 0.305 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.305 seconds behind, Sebastian Vettel was in fourth 0.896 seconds behind and Daniel Ricciardo was in fifth place 1.195 seconds behind Verstappen.

Nico Rosberg was in sixth 1.206 seconds behind, Valtteri Bottas was in seventh 1.313 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 1.420 seconds behind, Sergio Perez was ninth 1.591 seconds behind and Felipe Massa was in tenth 1.705 seconds behind Verstappen.

Drivers started the FP1 session on the intermediates after overnight rain in Mexico City left the circuit damp in places. Conditions on the track were tricky due to the combination of a wet track and freshly laid asphalt, with Sebastian Vettel reporting it was “ridiculously slippery”.

During FP1, Nico Rosberg had his session interrupted when his rear brakes caught fire after running wide at Turn 12. As Rosberg returned to the track flames were licking from his rear wheels; presenting a dramatic show for the fans sat in the old baseball stadium at the end of the lap. He immediately returned to the pits where he remained for 25 minutes while Mercedes assessed the damage and made changes to allow for more cooling.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2 and FP3.

Practice 2 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.21.531 followed closely by Kvyat with a gap of 0.245 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.337 seconds behind, Hamilton was in fourth 0.430 seconds behind and Vettel was in fifth place 0.453 seconds behind Rosberg.

Raikkonen was in sixth 0.868 seconds behind, Bottas was in seventh 1.190 seconds behind, Alonso was eighth with a gap of 1.462 seconds behind, Button was ninth 1.578 seconds behind and Felipe Massa was in tenth 1.758 seconds behind Rosberg.

As per the first session, the opening half-hour was dominated by a number of spins and incidents.After leading the way in first practice (controversially so) Max Verstappen’s second practice was over inside five minutes after sliding into a barrier out of the exit of Turn 16, one of the slower sections of the track.

This then brought out the red flags while his Toro Rosso was recovered and started a series of spins and slides for a number of drivers on the very slippery asphalt.

With the poor weather conditions in recent months in Mexico City delayed the laying of the top layer of the circuit and with it still being so new and with oils forcing their way to the surface, it resulted in plenty of action on the track.

After a seven-minute delay under the red flags, Valtteri Bottas was the next to suffer as he lost his Williams under braking at high speed into Turn 1, with Bottas fortunate enough to only escape with losing his front wing after clipping a barrier.

During FP2, Turn 1 proved to be particularly troublesome with Carlos Sainz Jr, home hero Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado all going off track at that point. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel only just held onto his Ferrari on entry to the pitlane at one stage, while Hamilton spun out of the sharp-left Turn 4, resulting in him facing the wrong way.

With 28 minutes remaining in the session, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean became the second retiree of the session and pulled his Lotus off on to the grass at Turn 10 due to a clutch problem. This then resulted in a second red-flag period as he helped the marshals push his car behind a barrier.

Practice 3 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.21.083 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.014 seconds behind, Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.118 seconds behind, Vettel was in fourth 0.211 seconds behind and Kvyat was in fifth place 0.477 seconds behind Rosberg.

Perez was in sixth 0.520 seconds behind, Bottas was in seventh 0.689 seconds behind, Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 0.692 seconds behind, Massa was ninth 0.862 seconds behind and Nico Hulkenberg was in tenth 0.927 seconds behind Rosberg.

During FP3, we saw Daniil Kvyat having had a spin at Turn 6. We also saw Kimi Raikkonen had a disappointing session and peeled off the circuit with smoke pouring from the rear of his Ferrari having managed just four laps and Jenson Button struggling once again as he reported vibrations from the engine at low revs and spent most of the session in the garage.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race.

But Ricciardo and Vettel are both looking strong this weekend and could snatch pole from them. However, Sainz Jr, Hulkenberg, Perez and Bottas also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso or Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

Booth and Lowdon resign from Manor F1

1446222966

It was announced yesterday that Manor team principals John Booth and sporting director Graeme Lowdon have tendered their resignations from the team.

Booth and Lowdon formed Manor Grand Prix in 2009 prior to it being renamed Virgin Racing ahead of its entry into F1 the following year look set to remain in place until the end of the current season in Abu Dhabi next month.

It is believed Booth and Lowdon have felt forced to act following a difference of opinion with owner Stephen Fitzpatrick about the way forward for the team. Fitzpatrick who is the founder of independent energy company Ovo stepped in and saved the team in February after Booth and Lowdon had fought hard to keep the team alive since it fell into administration last October.

The team was given special dispensation to compete this season with a year-old spec of engine, provided by Ferrari, and with a chassis that at least conformed to the regulations on a safety basis. But for the past nine months the team has understandably struggled on track, with its cars constantly at the back of the grid and invariably last of those that see the chequered flag.

But behind the scenes Manor has been heading in the right direction, most notably securing a Mercedes engine supply for 2016.

After being forced to leave its factory in Banbury following administration, the team returned to a new base in the same area earlier this month. With substantial income from Formula One Management for securing top-10 finishes in each of the last two seasons puts Manor in its strongest financial position since it entered F1.

However, the situation with Fitzpatrick has come to a head for both Booth and Lowdon, who only recently decided it was in their best interests to leave. It is understood there is unlikely to be a u-turn unless there is a dramatic change of direction at the top level. It is to be believed that unless the situation is resolved a number of other personnel will follow Booth and Lowdon out of the team.

Neither man was able to comment when approached by the media, while Fitzpatrick is not in attendance at this weekend’s grand prix in Mexico.

2015 Mexican Grand Prix Team Principals Press Conference Transcript

_w2q9876

Here’s the official transcript for the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix Team Principals Press Conference as provided by the FIA:-

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Vijay MALLYA (Force India), Claire WILLIAMS (Williams), Maurizio ARRIVABENE (Ferrari), Toto WOLFF (Mercedes), Yasuhisa ARAI (Honda)
PRESS CONFERENCE

Q:- Claire, if I can start with you. Williams won this race the last time it was here back in 1992. Did you watch that race and what are your thoughts on coming back to this circuit today?

Claire Williams (referred here after as CW):- I was 14 when that race was one and I don’t remember watching it. I probably did; I’m sure I did. But it’s great to come back here. We won the race prior to that with Riccardo Patrese as well, so Williams has a good history here. I’d love if we were able to repeat that this weekend.

Obviously we haven’t had some great races in the past few, so the team really needs a strong result here. But it’s a great venue. I think everyone in Formula One for our return to Mexico has really enjoyed the experience so far. The promoters have done a great job with the facilities we have, so it will be a good weekend.

Q: This time last year you were battling for position in the Constructors’ Championship but you’re looking pretty solid now in third for this season. It’s obviously progress but are you satisfied with the season you’ve had?

CW:- This year for us was all about consolidation. If we are able to secure third this year again, that’s fantastic for a team operating on the budgets we are operating on. We are operating on a budget that is half or a third of some of the bigger teams out there and I’m really proud of the job that everybody in our team has done. It’s been hard work this year. We haven’t had some of the podiums we would have liked to have had but we’ve done a job. But it’s not over yet, we still go work to do but getting thirds again would be fantastic.

Q: Thank you. Vijay, if I can move on to you. It’s a huge weekend for your team, in particular Sergio of course. Are you enjoying it, are the team feeling added pressure this weekend at all?

Vijay Mallya (referred here after as VM):- No, we are absolutely enjoying being here in Mexico. As you may know we launched the car in Mexico in January this year. Checo has a huge following, we have many large Mexican sponsors and I personally love Mexico because there are many similarities with India, so this is like a home race for us as well.

Q: We are hearing talk of a name change for the team for next season. What can you tell us about it? What does it mean for the team and how is it going to be structured?

VM:- We are in discussion, nothing has been finalised, we have many options and I’ll be able to confirm or otherwise once I have something to say. As I’ve said, and as was faithfully reported by Autosport, I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch.

Q: Thank you very much. Arai-san, can I ask you first what happened this morning in terms of Jenson’s engine and what effect did that have on running this afternoon?

Yasuhisa Arai (referred here after as YA):- Jenson’s engine we had planned to change between FP1 and FP2 but we detected, by sensor, a high-voltage failure. Actually we don’t know but we need time to learn. We have to change many items to go out the garage.

Q: There is talk of Honda supplying a second team, or maybe not. What is the current situation and if you were given the choice would Honda rather supply more than one team?

YA:- Obviously we cannot discuss details at this moment. We have been approached by the team but discussions are ongoing and nothing has been decided. I always say this season: we are always open, so we are on discussions that are ongoing – that’s it.

Q: Toto, you were invited onto the panel in Austin to celebrate as Constructors’ Champions and we’re delighted to see you now as double champions this season. Tell us your thoughts on Lewis as a three-time world champion and also how he’s changed over his three years with the team?

Toto Wolff (referred here after as TW):- It’s clear that when you win a third drivers’ title you move into the ‘Olymp’ of drivers. There are not many who have scored three title or more and he’s part of that. He’s had an extraordinary season, almost without any mistakes. The car didn’t let him down and this is then where he ended up.

The journey he had in the team… he started the same time I joined the team. I think it’s normal that as a person you develop, you grow into the team, you get to know the people, the car suits you more and this is the result of three years with Mercedes.

Q: On the flip side, it’s obviously difficult for Nico. Where does he go from here? How does he rebuild for 2016?

TW:- For the team it’s always bittersweet and just to keep the right balance I think he had a season with so many ups but also many downs. Some very good performances, he was always there. He outqualified Lewis on some of the occasions but then he was also let down with the car in Monza, with the engine failure and this is simply where we need to improve – to provide a car that makes them capable of fighting each other, because it lifts the team.

Today you could see he has a very strong pace and the combination of the two of them makes where we are. We won the Constructors’ title also because Nico is such a strong contender to Lewis and this is a very beneficial situation to the team.

Q: Thank you. Maurizio, can I ask you how important is it that Sebastian now finishes second in the Drivers’ title race for Ferrari?

Maurizio Arrivabene (referred here after as MA):- The championship is not finished. At the moment he is second but I think Nico is hunting him but we will do our best to keep [Sebastian] in that position, even if Toto do not like.

Q: Sebastian drove a great race in Austin. Can you tell us what he’s brought to the team and how motivating performances like that are to the team?

MA:- I don’t want to talk about Sebastian, because every time they are asking me questions – he’s a four-time world champion. He’s demonstrate that he is a great driver but he also have a good team around him. He has integrated himself very well into the team and also with Kimi, I have to say, and everybody is going in the right direction.

He gave us an additional push and I recognise he is a great driver. By the way, congratulations to Mercedes and to Lewis for the title, the really deserve [it].

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Toto, you recently signed an agreement with Manor to supply power units for next season. They describe themselves as a team of real racers but two of those real racers, John Booth and Graeme Lowdon, have seemingly resigned form their positions. I just wondered what you make of that and if that poses any threat to the deal going forward into next year?

TW:- Obviously when I spoke about racers, John and Graeme was very much meant by that plus of course the rest of the team, it’s a bunch of real fighters that have shown stamina in keeping the team in the sport. I’ve known John forever, since the Formula Renault days of Lewis and Formula 3 days. Manor means John Booth and John Booth means Manor and Graeme has made sure… was very instrumental in keeping the team alive last year, so seeing them go, from a personal standpoint and from the racing spirit, is obviously a blow.

So going forward, we have signed the deal with Manor and I would say we need to give credit to everybody in the team who stays in the team but we are curious spectators from now on.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Question to Maurizio. Last week in Austin I asked you what your thoughts and comments were about the possibility of another kind of engine, that was being discussed. You said that you’d rather wait until it’s gone through Strategy Group etcetera before commenting – yet on Monday we heard that Ferrari had invoked a veto against such a plan. Could you please explain the difference and also whether in fact there was a veto that was invoked – and why? Thank you.

MA:- Concerning the veto it is quite easy. We exercised our veto in compliance with our legitimate commercial right to do business as a powertrain manufacturer. There’s nothing to add.

Q: (Kate Walker – motorsport.com) I’ve got a follow-up for Maurizio. Given the rude financial health of the Ferrari F1 team’s finances, how do you morally justify exercising your veto?

MA:- I repeat it. I have to repeat again. The rules are done by the Federation and it’s fine but we just exercise our commercial right as a powertrain manufacturer. This is the reason why.

It was a question about the moral justification, given your strong financial position.

MA:- Why do we have to justify it more? Here we are talking about commercial right. We are not talking about budget, we are not talking about anything else. If somebody, they are asking you, they give you a specification to produce apple, OK you produce apple in line with the specification. That somebody,  they’re asking you, OK, we want to impose you the price of the apple’, what are you going to do? This is the principle. It has nothing to do with the rest.

Q: (Christopher Joseph ¬– Chicane) Question for the front row [MA, TW, YA] in terms of powertrain. How important is it for you, as powertrain manufacturers, that you have gained some traction in the Mexican market – and what is the relationship between excellence in powertrain on the track and how that relates to road car technology?

TW:- To answer the first question, Mexico is a huge market and very important market for us. We’re not only producing cars in Mexico but also it’s the sheer size is very important for us. From the relevance to road car technology, there is a huge relevance – and it goes in both directions. What you are seeing on the roads is hybrid technology and fuel efficiency and this is the fastest lab in the world.

We have been part of a sport that set very stringent new rules two years ago in terms of efficiency of those power units – yet those power units deploy more power than the engines before and we are almost there in terms of laptimes with 100kg instead of 150-160kg – so it’s very, very road relevant.

Arai-san – how important is it to be visible to the Mexican market?

YA:- Here is a very, very important market for us, of course. We made a new plant in Celaya and opened that plant. Our services are very strong in Mexico. This is the 50 years anniversary for the first win for Honda in Formula One this year. It is a very special place in Mexico.

Maurizio – how important to be visible to the Mexican market and the relevance to road cars?

MA:- For us of course it’s important because Mexico somehow is the door of South America. It’s a growing market so for a car manufacturer company it’s a very, very important and this is the reason why we were very happy to have the grand prix here because it’s another opportunity to enlarge the Formula One sport and the Formula One race in South America. The show I think is more completed now with Austin, USA, Mexico now and Brazil.

Q: (Ralf Bach – Auto Bild Motosport) A question to Toto. Toto, can you understand Ferrari’s opinion in this engine case? The veto right and the answer.

TW:- This is obviously a very controversial topic and, as with many things, black and white is not the answer. There is… we were… there is a set of rules which were implemented in Formula One two years ago and we started developing those engines three, four, five years ago, based on that set of rules. As large corporations we work on long-term planning. It is part of the budget process. It is part of the R&D process.

From that standpoint, part of it is a business case and you need to calculate how much you can charge for those engines, how much you can recover for those engines. Ferrari is a public company now, so it is difficult as a commercial entity to just be confronted with the situation where price is being imposed. It somehow takes away the commercial ability of refinancing. Now, you can say, for a large organisation it doesn’t matter: a couple of millions don’t matter – but they do.

It’s how we are being set up, the constant always trying to improve your result and optimise your organisation – which is why it’s a discussion I think we should have behind closed doors. I think it is very important to understand the financial constraints of some of the smaller teams and we remain committed to cost reductions. It’s not like the big teams are stubborn and say “well, we don’t want to hear anything of that.” This is a platform that functions with all of us.

We are not just running fronting it and saying we don’t care what happens behind us or aside of us. You need to balance that. I think Ferrari’s first reaction – and excuse me [MA] that I’m talking for you in that case – is the imposing ways are very difficult to cope for a commercially-oriented entity. I can understand Ferrari’s standpoint and I can also understand it’s a very controversial and difficult situation for some of the smaller teams, and of course how it’s being brought forward, it doesn’t look very neat – but there is a much more to it than just a sheer veto and saying “no, we don’t want to have the discussion,” because that’s not how it was.

MA:- In fact, what I said, my answer was only concerned to the reason we applied the veto. For the rest I totally agree with veto. It is not a position against the other team. It is a decision that is defending a commercial principle. For the rest we are open to finding any other solution.

At Toto explained, you have in a public company, as we are now, but also in a company as Mercedes is, you have research and development costs that somehow you have to recover. I don’t find any commercial entity all around the world that is giving their product out to the market for free – or at cost. So this is the principle.

Q: (Ian Parkes- Autosport) The FIA recently announced plans to potentially introduce a budget engine from 2017. To Vijay and Claire, could you give us your thoughts on that, whether it’s a unit which would likely appeal to you? And to the front three engine manufacturers, again your thoughts on that, bearing in mind the multi-millions of pounds that you’ve spent in developing the current system?

CW:- Everybody is aware that Williams is always in support of any cost control measures in Formula One, and we respect the work that the FIA are doing in that regard. But we also have always come out in support of the current power unit that we have, it’s hugely relevant to the auto industry of today and in Formula One, this needs to be a technically innovative championship.

So I think there are arguments on both sides and as Toto said, it’s quite an evocative subject and one that we want to have conversations around with the FIA and directly rather than talking about it in the press at this stage.

VM:- I received a communication from the FIA proposing the new engine concept with outline specifications. I appreciate the cost cutting initiative. I think Force India has constantly been asking for cost control measures in Formula One for good reason, I might add. But it’s very early stages for us to comment on whether we would be supportive of this particularly new engine or not. Having said that, we have an excellent relationship with Mercedes.

We have a fantastic power train. Sure, if the FIA feels that an engine should cost six or seven million euros, this gives me a little foot in the door to request my friend Toto for a discount. But having said, we are contractually obliged to Mercedes ‘til 2020 and we respect our contract, but having said, any cost saving initiative is welcome from our point of view and should be discussed by all teams in the strategy group and those who are not in the strategy group, because they are equally relevant and hopefully we can all come to a conclusion.

I just take another minute: I heard what Maurizio said about the recent veto by Ferrari. He further states that he would be very prepared to sit down and discuss cost reduction measures which is something that we appreciate. Unfortunately, in the past, the strategy group has been discussing cost control for the last two years and there has been no significant result. Hopefully now, going forward, we will all sit down with the seriousness that it deserves and find a solution that is satisfactory to all teams that are competing in this world championship.

TW:- Vijay’s a very shrewd businessman so nothing else was expected, same as Claire. As I said before, we cannot close our eyes to what’s happening in Formula One and we need to show respect for every team – the ones that are part of the strategy group and the ones not part of the strategy group, and you need to consider that. And you have to balance that against your own commercial pressures.

I think Formula One was successful with the current engines in attracting engine manufacturers. It is a period where we are having four suppliers in the sport, which I would consider as a success and I think that from our standpoint, what we need is a long term visibility of regulations and what’s happening so we need to try to make our customers and partners in the smaller teams save costs as good as we can and have a serious discussion about it and maybe Jean Todt and Bernie’s initiative now is going to trigger more emphasis on those discussions so I take it as a positive.

We remain open to the regulations, we are not the ones who make the regulations but we have a voice and we sit there and we hope I can make that argument heard, that we need long term stability in coming up with solutions. If, going forward, we need different regulations in terms of power units we would very much discuss that, if it makes sense or not, but we shouldn’t shake the system too much because that doesn’t fit to the long term perspectives of large organisations like the three of us represent.

YA:- I think that for Formula One there are three major important things. One is sustainability, as you discussed, the cost to a price. And how more attractive and keep the good fun. And also the challenge of new technology; the current regulation is a very good direction, and also the competition. Those are the three major areas which are always important and we always discuss about that.

MA:- I think I tend to full agree with Todt because here you have two companies, they do chassis, they do engine, gearbox, everything on the car so we need to find a bit of a balance versus others because everybody looks smaller but if you compare us and what we are doing to maybe our teams, we have all the respect for them. They maybe do only the chassis. We need to find the balance in between all of us.

As Vijay said, we are ready to sit down to discuss, to find a good solution which is making everybody happy and most importantly, it’s helping Formula One to grow in terms of spectacularisation and so on. So, this is our point of view. We want to continue our discussion but as Toto said, you can’t shake the box too much because otherwise you create further confusion.

I mean if you apply the rules, the rules need to be discussed, agreed by everybody and equal for everybody, because I don’t think a solution to have three, four, five different power units that they are running in Formula One is going to satisfy us and to simplify also, because most of the time, now that what we discuss in the strategy group is becoming public. I can say something in the strategy group where also we are discussing how to simplify the rules so we also need to do that and to do it we need to unify the rules, to simplify and to look further to enhance the show.

Q: (Will Buxton – NBC SN) Toto said a few moments ago that we can’t be blind to the situation in this sport any longer and yet the use of the veto by Ferrari shows that if not blind, it could possibly be argued that there’s a slight blurring of vision. I would like to ask the members of the panel that don’t have the right of veto for a simple yes or no answer; should anybody in this sport, should any team in this sport have the right of veto over regulation?

CW:- I think it is what it is. I think it’s like a lot of things in Formula One, that it is in the regulations that if Ferrari have that veto, it’s a historical veto they’ve had for many years. I don’t believe that they’ve exercised it on a regular basis but they obviously exercise it when they feel opposed to something and opposed to something that they believe that they should be opposed to because it’s important to them and Maurizio has laid out the reasons why he used… Ferrari used their veto.

Where I sit, Williams, we’ve always just abided by the rules, they are what they are, like a lot of things in Formula One and we just go along with them.

VM:- I sit on the world motorsport council of the FIA so I’m not going to express my personal opinion. The FIA president Jean Todt has already issued a press statement surrounding this entire issue of the recommendations that were made for cost control measures, that Ferrari vetoed it, and he very clearly stated that he does not intend to contest the exercising of that veto so that’s it as far as I’m concerned.

TW:- Well, there is not a yes and no answer to this, it’s much more complex than this and I think it is an historic right which is a right that was earned in participating in the sport for fifty or sixty years, God knows how many years, and having amassed this tremendous amount, the question is is the veto the right way in terms of honouring that.

It’s up to others to make that judgement so considering that, I think that somebody like Ferrari needs to have different right of opinion and expressing themselves than somebody who has been here ten minutes.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Arai-san, major corporations move employees, they give them projects, they give them assignments etc. I’m hearing from Japan that your assignment is a three year assignment, that there were two years to set up the Honda F1 programme and one year to introduce it in the field, i.e. this year. Can you assure us categorically that you’ll still head the programme next year or will somebody else take over?

YA:- I don’t know. I can’t say here.

Q: (Christopher Joseph – Chicane) Just further to your response, Toto, you talked about the veto and in general you’ve all spoken about the veto being part of the historic nature, the DNA, if you will, of Formula One. Is it perhaps time that, seeing as teams like the Williams team, all the independent garagistas as they were called, should they not have a veto, are they just not equally part of this great circus?

TW:- If we all had a veto, it doesn’t make any sense any more. No, I think this is really such a complex discussion which we shouldn’t have in public. My personal opinion is that you need to respect Ferrari’s position. It is the strongest brand in Formula One and it has done a lot around Formula One and has been honoured in various contracts be it the veto or be it with commercial rights. And whatever the ways of that being honoured is another question. Is veto the right thing to exercise your position or not, I don’t know, but it’s not a discussion we should be having here.

MA:- I would like to add also that we are not applying the veto to every single meeting. If we do it, we think a lot about it and we do it if, in our opinion, it’s necessary to do it and the last one, I remember, was applied by Jean Todt actually a couple of years ago, many years ago.

Haas F1 signs Gutierrez as their second driver for 2016

1446276121

It was announced yesterday that Esteban Gutierrez has finally been confirmed as a Haas Formula 1 driver for the 2016 season.

Ferrari reserve Gutierrez’s appointment has been one of the worst-kept secrets in F1, with the 24-year-old completing Haas’s line-up alongside Romain Grosjean.

In an interview with the media yesterday after being unveiled at the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City alongside team owner Gene Haas, team principal Guenther Steiner, and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Jr, a personal sponsor stated the following:-

‘I feel very, very happy to share this news that took quite a while to be able to share it.  I feel very grateful to Gene, who has faith in my potential as a driver and who feels I can contribute, and I feel we can achieve great things.

‘The work we are doing with Haas, Ferrari and Maurizio [Arrivabene, team principal] is giving me an opportunity to be a part of the Ferrari family, For me, every weekend has become longer because I have become more and more anxious to get in the car. I am anxious to return to racing, but this has been one of the most important years of my career, and I am convinced we will have and share huge successes together.’

It is clear that Gutierrez is delighted that he has been signed for Haas for next season and that the team believe in his potential as a driver as well. You can tell that he is looking forward to becoming back to racing next season and using the experience he has gained with Ferrari this year to good use.

Gutierrez who is the 2010 GP3 champion competed in GP2 for two seasons, finishing third in 2012, before being taken on by Sauber in 2013. The campaign proved to be a steep learning curve for Gutierrez as he managed just one points finish, scoring just six points in total compared to the 51 of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

Last season proved to be the worst in Sauber’s history, with neither Gutierrez nor team-mate Adrian Sutil collecting a point and both dropped at the end of the year. But as a result of this, Gutierrez at least secured his role with Ferrari, a link that helped him return to a race seat with Haas, which will use the Scuderia’s power unit and other components from next year.

In his own interview with the media yesterday, Haas stated the following about signing Gutierrez as follows:-

‘We looked very diligently at filling the seat, and the person we chose comes highly recommended by Ferrari. He has of history of racing in F1 in 2013 and ’14 and is currently on the reserve Ferrari list so we we feel he has the potential to add to our team.’

Meanwhile Steiner in his own interview with the media  is confident Gutierrez will help make Haas competitive from the off. Steiner stated the following-

‘This team started from zero, nothing, but they are making very good progress, on plan, and we will be there for the first test.

‘Everything is going well, we have daily problems, but we have a lot of good people working for us and the technical partnership with Ferrari is working well. Esteban has experience from Sauber, and then he went to Ferrari and learned even more. With Esteban and Romain we will be competitive in the first year, as good as we can be.’

Even though everything is going well for the Haas F1 team in preparations for the 2016 season, they now have two experienced drivers to lead the team and start their quest to get competitive within the sport as quickly as possible. Even though Gutierrez signing with Haas has been the worst kept secret in the sport, now is the time for him to show what he can do in the car and he has been granted a second chance in the sport which many young drivers do not get and is very lucky to do so.

Pirelli set for an 12 hour test following the Abu Dhabi GP

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Pirelli_supersoft_tyre

It was announced yesterday that Formula 1 is set to run a 12-hour one-day test following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after the plan was backed by teams at a meeting of the sporting directors.

The Italian manufacturer has long been keen to finalise the details of the test which will be taking place on Tuesday 1st December to gather data on its new fifth super-super soft compound.

It is understood that Pirelli has presented its run plans to the teams, who met in Mexico on Thursday nd as is the case with tyre-specific tests; it will pick up the cost of the circuit hire and the tyres.

The test is open to all teams with Pirelli requesting they run at least one race driver each as they will have the most experience of the current tyres which will enhance the feedback on the new compound.

Pirelli is asking fans to vote on social media for their choice of colour for the new compound between purple and silver and it is understood the former is currently the frontrunner.

It also understood that the two-day wet-weather test, which has received the backing of the teams, has been pencilled in for 25-26 January 2016.

Force India team set for a deal with Aston Martin

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Force_India_logo_1-700x367

It was announced yesterday that the Force India Formula 1 team is closing on a deal to be rebranded as Aston Martin Racing next season.

If this move is true, this will bring the British sportscar manufacturer back to F1, over half a century after its previous brief foray in 1959 and 1960. At the moment, Aston Martin wants to have a presence in F1 to take on sportscar rivals McLaren and Ferrari on track as well as off.

It previously discussed a return to F1 in partnership with the Red Bull as well as holding talks with the Williams and Force India teams before ultimately deciding to focus on the latter.

Alongside the team name change, it is understood the livery will become blue and gold as part of a link-up with sponsor Johnnie Walker. Aston Martin would then receive branding on the car while there be synergy on R&D to allow for significant technology transfer from F1 to its road car business.

Force India’s engine supplier Mercedes (which owns five per cent of Aston Martin) is said to have given its blessing to such an arrangement.

In his interview with the media Force India team principal Vijay Mallya said about the situation with Aston Martin as follows:-

‘If tomorrow someone comes and offers me a good sum of money for title sponsorship, I’ll seek the team name. If the marque comes along and I have to change the team name, I have to look at what it does for the team in terms of profile.

‘It’s premature to talk about it now, but we’re talking. Nothing is done until it’s done. I don’t like to count my chickens until they are hatched.’

The Force India team also issued the following statement via a spokesperson stated the following:-

‘We continue to have a number of discussions about 2016 and beyond with both our current and new partners who see a commercial value in a relationship with Force India. When the time is right we will make suitable announcements in conjunction with our commercial partners. The future remains very bright for the team.’

Force India will need to apply to F1’s commercial rights holder to get approval for a name change, but such permission is believed to be a formality and could go ahead as planned.

2015 Mexican Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference Transcript

_w2q6142

Here’s the official transcript from the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference as provided by the FIA online as follows:-

DRIVERS – Carlos SAINZ (Toro Rosso), Pastor MALDONADO (Lotus), Will STEVENS (Manor), Fernando ALONSO (McLaren), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Sergio PEREZ (Force India)

PRESS CONFERENCE

Lewis, if we can start with you: you’ve had a few days for it to sink in and now you arrive here as a three-time world champion. How does it feel and how were the celebration? 

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Well, hola everyone. Is it como estas.

Sergio Perez (referred here after as SP):- Como estas.

LH:- Como estas? Really happy to be here in Mexico, it’s my first time and the last few days have been relaxed, not too hectic, a little bit of partying but obviously conscious that we have the race this weekend, so couldn’t do too much damage. So I plan for more the end of the year to really go in. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.

I think every day I’m kind of pinching myself, thinking ‘I can’t believe it’s really happened’. And I guess probably, like, yesterday I was straight back into business, I hit race mode, so I’ve not really been thinking about it that much but still it’s a good feeling.

You haven’t won it before with three races to go, you’ve only ever won it at the last, so what’s the plan for the rest of the season, still maximum attack?

LH:- For me it’s always maximum attack, so we’ve still got these three races. For example, we’ve got the Mexican Grand Prix here, the first time in 23 years. I think it’s exciting for the Mexican people; it’s exciting for me, and as all us driver [feel], you love to have your stamp on the first race back here, so that’s the target and yeah, we’ve still got big races to win.

Thank you for that. Sergio, big week for you, busy week for you. Are you enjoying all the attention? Is it what you dreamed of?

SP:- Yeah, it’s definitely a big dream for me to be able to race in my home country. It’s been more than 12 years since I raced in my country, so definitely it’s going to be the biggest day of my career on Sunday, because to race in front of my whole people, all my country, it’s something very special. You know how Mexicans are.

So, it’s going to be the most special day of my career, no matter what result I get on Sunday. I really hope that we can have a great result and cheer all the fans that are doing the effort to come. But definitely it’s just going to be a dream come true on Sunday to race in front of my crowd.

You’re on a bit of a roll right now in terms of performance, so you’ve got a lot of confidence coming into this race. It’s the perfect time to have it for you, isn’t it?

SP:- Yeah, definitely, we’ve been having a very good couple of races; the last six have been really strong for us. I think there is a very good chance we can keep up the momentum. I’m looking forward to do that and try to score as many points as possible on the weekend for the team and for all the people who are coming to see me on Sunday.

Thank you. Fernando, you drove a great race for little reward unfortunately in Austin, but you’re clearly not lacking motivation. Where do you think that inner steel, that inner strength from?

Fernando Alonso (referred here after as FA):- Well, I think the team is doing a good job and everyone is pushing to improve the situation. All the new parts that we bring to the races they seem to deliver what we expect from them. Definitely there is a very nice direction in the team this year. It has been tough; it has been frustrating at times. But we kept all united, we kept all moving in one direction, one team and for next year I think we are putting some of the problems we had this year in [their] place for next year.

So you keep enjoying racing and when the circuit suits a little bit our car there is a little bit of extra motivation and we push a little bit harder. It was the case in Austin, where we felt more competitive in all sessions over the weekend. In the race as well, it has been probably the best race of the year for me, Austin.

In the first 20 laps I think in nine of them was quicker than Lewis and this didn’t happen for the past two years and a half! So this was very good news and definitely I enjoyed the race and, as you said, zero points for an issue in the last 10 laps but it was definitely a different feeling compared to the rest of the year.

You’ve said you think McLaren can find two and a half seconds over the winter. What makes you so confident, what have you seen?

FA:- Well, I think the lack of performance we have in some areas of the car are quite fundamental issues that should have a not too difficult answer, let’s a say, or not too difficult a solution. It’s just we need to copy the direction everyone has apart from us. It’s some of the time that we feel we will recover with not much penalty, because for the others they already have it in their package.

So some of the performance gain we expect will come for free but it’s true that all the competitors will work very hard over the winter and they will recover a couple of seconds also, so we need to make an extra, but we are feeling optimistic, we feel confident of next year being very competitive. We are realistic at the same time.

We understand that in Formula One there are no magic things for being one year out of Q1 and the next year fighting for the championship – that’s a very, very optimistic target but we will try our best.

Thank you. Pastor, what can you tell us about your race in Austin? You managed to avoid all chaos and end up in the points.

Pastor Maldonado (referred here after as PM):- Yeah, to be honest it was quite difficult from the set-up and balance point of view with the car during the entire race. We were not as quick as expected, as always, during the race. But yeah, when I saw the people fighting in the front, I was very cautious and trying to get the places from other car mistakes and yeah it was quite clean from my side and very consistent.

At the end, P8. For sure we were expecting something but a few more points. It’s important for us at this stage of the season, so looking forward to continuing like this and going in the points.

Your new team-mate was announced in Austin. You’ll essentially be team leader next year. How do you feel about that? Does it change your outlook; do you feel added responsibility? 

PM:- Yeah, I hope it will be a completely different year to this one, with more resources. We need to push harder than this year, especially on the car and you know, yeah, try to be more solid on the development.

Carlos, coming to you. At this point in the season there is a lot of personal pride at stake. The battle between you and Max is really tight on track, even if the points don’t show it. Are you enjoying that battle and how do you come out on top with three races left?

Carlos Sainz (referred here after as CS):- Yeah, I think it’s been a great year for both of us. Apart from the results, apart from the show, I think we are both learning a lot. From my side, I am enjoying a lot every single race, especially these last two. Obviously I started from the back and had to make my way through and I enjoyed that a lot.

Everything is very good. We just need to make sure we keep learning, I keep learning until the end of the season. We have three races. I think it’s important to finish on a high, so keep the momentum up from the last two races and yeah, finish the season on a high.

It was your first time racing in Austin and conditions were difficult to say the least: schedules changing all the time, let alone the conditions. What did you learn from it and what confidence did you gain from that weekend?

CS:- It was a much more difficult race than you may think for me, because my first lap in the dry in Austin was during the race. So I had no data, absolutely nothing, no information from the car, from the tyres. All of a sudden we had to go on slicks and I was learning every lap, lap by lap. I was enjoying it a lot. I knew I couldn’t do any mistakes.

I couldn’t push so hard because I needed to learn the track and even though we had lots of problems during the race to come up with a P6 and finally a P7 with the penalty was a great achievement. So I was very pleased with that race, probably one of the best of the season for sure and I cannot wait for Mexico and to continue in that way.

Thank you. Will, same question to you really: first time racing in Austin, although cut short. Changing conditions, first dry running in the race, just talk us through what you learned from that weekend?

Will Stevens (referred here after as WS):- Yeah, Austin was a pretty cool weekend. Clearly not as much running as we hoped but the track was actually really good fun to drive in the wet – we were really having a lot of fun out there. Clearly the race was cut short for me, which was disappointing because it looked like the race was the best opportunity to have a good race besides Silverstone. It was disappointing. Then race looked good fun and I hope that I was out there to enjoy it.

You’ve got three races to go now. Do you think you have had a successful season and what indications have you had about next year?

WS:- Yeah, I think the year has been really good for me. My pace has always been really strong this year. I’ve only been out-qualified by team-mate four times this year so pace has never really been an issue. The last few races haven’t really gone our way. A few things have happened that have made it a little bit more difficult. But if I was to assess the year as a whole, I think it’s been really positive and for my options for next year, obviously we are pushing hard and everything is moving in the right direction.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dan Knutson – Honorary) Lewis, you’ve won three titles now, going back to when you won the first championship, what changed within you and what changed all around you after that first championship?

LH:= I think quite a lot really. I think a lot of growth a lot of… there has been a lot of movement around me of course: different teams; different management team; different people around me. But I guess just grown a lot and through those experiences, it’s taken a long time, gone through the hard route.

Before I got to Formula One I didn’t have any preparation for media and for press conferences like this stuff, so I felt like I was thrown in the deep end. It took a long, long time to really acclimatise, firstly to that side of Formula One, but also the fame. I think being able to feel comfortable within yourself, come out of your shell a little bit more and be comfortable and sure in who you are. It’s helped me drive better than ever today.

Just over those years you learn more and more about racing so you hopefully improve. I definitely think as an all round driver I should be better today. Well, I am better.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesporte.com) Lewis you won the championship, your team also won the Constructors’ Championship. What are you goals now? Do you go to the race maybe taking some more risks to fight for the win really – you don’t have anything to lose now.

LH:- I think I generally have a really balanced approach. Balanced between risk and not-too-much-risk. I don’t think I need to change it really because it’s done me well this year with the ten wins. So I think keeping it the same and, of course, there’s not pressure this weekend but to enjoy, just enjoy the experience. And so that’s what I’m going to try and do.

Q: (Ricardo Roga – US. News) This is for Fernando Alonso. One year ago you were here, near the track. How do you see all the complex of Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez right now?

FA:- Yes, I was one year ago here. Obviously many things changed and now the circuit is ready for the grand prix. I didn’t walk around, I think I will do it this afternoon. On the simulator it looks interesting. Very different part of the circuit with a very long straight and then the second sector with medium speed corners and the third sector with very low speed corners. A challenge for the engineers to set up the car.

I think the last sector with the stadium area, that will be quite enjoyable for us, for drivers, being so close to thousands of people. Hopefully we will put on a good show for everyone. I think the passion and the atmosphere we’ve felt from a few days in Mexico is quite special. How people live Formula One here. With Checo also having a good weekend hopefully, we will see a fantastic weekend.

Q: (César Herrera – Diario Récord) Hi guys. For all the drivers, after seeing the track, what can you expect from the race on Sunday? Do you think it’s going to be a funny race? Do you think this track has opportunities to be the finest of the season?

PM:- Yes. A lot of expectation from our side for this race. It’s maybe the most expected one for all of us. Very special for me. Very close to my country, Latin American, Spanish-speaking, a lot of friends here. I’ve been here in the past as well so, yes, very special. Of course, you make an amazing job on rebuilding the track.

For sure it’s very difficult to predict something before we jump in the track and we test with the car. We just only can work and see from the outside but not from the car. I’m 100 per cent sure it’s going to be very spectacular for all of you.

Carlos?

CS:- From the outside I managed to do the track walk yesterday and I was surprised with the amount of grandstands, especially the last sector and the entry to the stadium. I think it was very special. It’s something that we don’t have yet in Formula One and it’s going to be very interesting. And new tarmac so new circumstances, new degradations, new strategies. It’s going to be interesting.

And those couple of long straights are for sure going to create some movement in the race and maybe with the rain coming that’s a bit expected now, it could be even more interesting. Hopefully we can have as good a race as in Austin, as good a show as in Austin and people in Mexico enjoy it.

Will?

WS:- Similar to what Carlos said. I think the weather looks pretty unpredictable for the weekend. So we saw from Austin it can be a pretty exciting race and I think with the long straights for sure there’s going to be some overtaking.

So, I only arrived here yesterday, it’s my first time in Mexico, so, looking to get used to the city a little bit. There’s always a really good atmosphere in places like this and I’m sure Checo’s doing a good job with helping promote it. Looking forwards to the weekend. It should be a good one.

Checo, you probably know this place best…

SP:- Yeah, it’s great to hear all of the drivers so happy to be here in my country. That makes me feel very proud of what we have done. I think, walking through the paddock, it looks like we have done a great job for the track and we can compare this track against any other around the world.

And the track layout itself, the circuit, it’s a great circuit. It can really offer good racing. We have one of the longest straights, which generally always helps to have good racing. So, I would really expect to have great racing between all of us on Sunday, which will be great for the fans.

Lewis?

LH:- Well I just arrived so I haven’t seen the track as such. I haven’t walked around – but hopefully I’ll get the chance to walk around later. But from the simulator it looked pretty awesome, and from images I’ve seen. And knowing that… generally the crowd really is what makes the atmosphere and makes the weekend.

I’ve heard this weekend is sold out and I know… I’ve got some Mexican friends that I spend Christmases with, so I know the spirit of the Mexicans. If they all come out in their thousands, I think it could be one of the most amazing weekends. So I’m looking forward to that.

SP:- They will, don’t worry!

Fernando?

FA:- Yeah, the same. Nothing really to add. The atmosphere on the weekend is amazing. It’s one of the very first things that we need to enjoy and experience. The race itself, how it can be, it’s impossible to predict. We should not judge on Sunday afternoon on whatever race it was. In Russia we saw a very boring race the first year and very exciting race the second. The circuit was exactly the same. Sometimes in football you see 0-0, sometimes 5-4. It’s difficult to predict, this sport. First we need to enjoy this weekend and put on a good race for all the fans.

Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) If I could ask all the drivers, just how physical and demanding is it going to be with that combination of altitude, the long straight. Is it going to be more demanding than other races this season?

FA:- Again, we should wait until Sunday but yes, definitely there is a little bit different conditions here. So, we should be taking care of this race a little bit better than others in terms of physical preparation with altitude. With these cars we drive now, it should be OK. If we had this race ten years ago with cars eight seconds quicker, it would be very tough.

Lewis, any concerns about the altitude?

LH:- I think it’s going to… I really don’t know what to expect. Naturally by having higher altitude, I train in high altitude during the winter so I anticipate it’s going to be more physical for us – but it also depends on how much grip there is. On the simulator I had not much. So, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. We’ll have a much better idea about it tomorrow.

Checo?

SP:- The same to what they’ve said. I think we have to wait until Sunday and see how we end up after the race. I don’t expect big issues as I think having those compounds it shouldn’t be such a big issue.

LH:- There should be champagne and tequila on the podium and sombreros.

SP:- There will be…

Carlos, anything to add?

CS:- No. I agree with them.

Pastor?

PM:- Yeah, I agree with them. We have to wait and see. It’s something new for all us.

Will?

WS:- No. Not much more to add.

Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) To everyone, in view of the kind of weird situation we had in Austin where Nico seemed to pass Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the virtual safety car period, with Red Bull still thinking it was continuing, presumably it was all legal but it was odd. What are your collective views on virtual safety car and how difficult it is to restart from that, to keep the delta?

FA:- I don’t think it’s a big issue. I know in Austin it was a little bit strange because we had many of them and we were always in a group of cars but we have to sit down with the race director and try to find little tweaks if necessary but it’s the same for everybody and it’s like all the rules: you need to be spot on, you need to be focussed, you need to be clever. I don’t think that whatever solution we find, it will be always a tweak that someone will spoil. I don’t see any big problem.

WS:- I actually think it works pretty well to be honest. If there’s a scenario where it doesn’t need to be a safety car, it normally keeps everything as it was and normally they can clear it quicker. I think generally it works pretty well. I think sometimes… in Russia we had a situation at the start where the virtual safety car came out pretty quickly and all the cars at the back bunched up quite a lot. I think how you go into it sometimes can be better but overall I think the system works pretty well.

LH:- Yeah, I don’t really have much more to add to it. I think it works well. It not the easiest to stay to the delta but it’s the same for everyone and we do our best.

PM:- Yeah, happy with that. I guess what we saw in the last race was a bit extreme just because of the conditions and I was not happy. On the other hand what happened to have a spectacular race so quite good.

SP:- Yeah, similar to all the others. I don’t have any issues. The race was very extreme. We had plenty of virtual safety cars and that didn’t help but I think at the same time you have to be on it because especially in Austin, by the time that my team advised me that it was going to end was a very short period, about three or four seconds, really short period whereas in the past it was a bit longer in that respect so something to look at with the race director.

CS:- Yeah, I have no issues with it. I think it works pretty well. So obviously just like another restart of safety car, you just need to be on it. It’s not easy when the message comes because you have to do a lot of changes while you are trying to look out for the green panel but that’s all. As these guys have said, it’s the same for everyone and it’s just sometimes you will get it perfect, others not so much and you need to be on it.

Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) Lewis, since the race in Austin, have you discussed the turn one incident with the Nico or the team at all? And secondly, obviously Nico is in quite a close battle for second in the drivers’ championship and Mercedes would like him to finish second. Will you help him out at all in that respect?

LH:- We haven’t spoken, not that I think we really need to. The team has not asked me to support him in that role as I’m here to win the race. The team has won the constructors’ championship so I think from here on there’s not really a huge benefit for the team for me to start helping. We’ll see what Toto wants me to do.

Q: (Ian Parkes – Autosport) Lewis, just following on from that, Toto was quite clear after the race that he did feel the need for talks to take place, that he didn’t want any fall-out like that which occurred in Spa. Why would you suggest that you don’t think there’s a need for any talks? And secondly, as a supplementary question, what happened with the cap flinging incident? Are you and Nico going to have a chat about that at all going forward… with the cap flinging incident that happened in the green room?

LH:- Ah, OK. The reason for me is just that I’m very easy going and so I never really have any problems. I think Toto feels that he needs to perhaps sit with Nico to see where his head’s at. Obviously we don’t want any tension in the team. Generally we do often come together and just keep it transparent.

I don’t really have anything to say about it but of course I’m sure we will sit down and see what Nico’s feeling and whatever emotions he has and try and dilute them and then move on. In terms of the cap thing, I don’t know, it’s pretty funny so I don’t really have much else to say about it.

Q: (Jorge Koechlin – AutoMundo) Checo, your dream, when we met when you were five years old and racing go-karts against your brother and you’ve come all this way with great talent. Do you feel responsible for this happening today in Mexico? And there’s a name that comes to mind, Carlos Slim. How has it been all this time and how do you feel together with him today that this is actually happening?

SP:- Yeah, it’s been a great trip. As you say, Carlos has been a great supporter of my career, a great friend of mine and we’re so proud of what we have achieved in terms of the Mexican Grand Prix. It’s not only the both of us, there’s been a lot of people – the government… as I say, so many people involved to try to  bring this race to make it happen and it just makes me feel so proud to actually arrive here, see all the drivers, see all the teams, all the worldwide media and it’s something that makes me feel extremely proud and I’m sure we will do a great event and I have no doubt that this event will become very popular for everyone, all amongst the F1 family.

Q: (Jim Virtuno – Associated Press) Sergio, what did you hear, growing up, about the Mexican drivers who came before you in Formula One and with all the excitement around you and your home race, can it become a negative pressure sort of thing? You have to just sit back and focus on the racing rather than everything else that’s going on.

SP:- What I’ve heard from the drivers… I mean it’s been a long time since we don’t have a driver and I even grew up with a Mexican driver in Formula One, so all what I’ve heard, what I heard from the people, from the Mexicans, obviously from the Rodriguez who are the most popular ones, yeah, I think they were great. Unfortunately they died at a very young age.

I think they had a lot more to offer to the sport and to Formula One. In terms of Sunday, I think it’s very positive pressure Obviously there is a lot of pressure but I take it as a very positive one, there will be a lot of energy, people really supporting me and what I have to do is what I do every weekend, it’s focus on myself. Once I put the helmet on, it’s time to focus on what I’m doing,

I have to do the normal procedure that I do throughout the races. There are a lot of things that we have to do before the race start, before qualifying and so on. Obviously there is a lot of pressure but a very positive type of pressure  and I see that it will give me a very good motivation to do well this Sunday.

Q: (Osvaldo Anaya – Estadio Newspaper) Lewis, yesterday you told us that you expect this main straight to be one of the fastest if not the fastest of the year. Could you elaborate on that?

LH:- Just my engineers told me that it’s going to be the fastest, the fast straight, right?

SP:- It’s a very fast straight, yes.

LH:- Because it’s quite long, because we’ve got the high altitude, we’ve got the least amount of drag, probably of the whole year, so I think because we’ve got the turbo… I think in the past, it was the V8 and the normally aspirated engines, we would have lost power alongside with the downforce, but with this car we don’t, we lose downforce and drag but we don’t lose any power with the turbo so it should be pretty unbelievably fast this weekend.

Q: (Thomas Goubin – AutoHebdo) Checo, you said that your last race in Mexico was twelve years ago, I just wanted to know what was this race and what memories you have of this race?

SP:- Yeah, they’re not great memories because it’s a very long story and we don’t have all the time to go through it but basically on the Sunday they didn’t allow me to race because I have a special licence to race, I was twelve years old and I had a special permit to race against drivers of twenty, 25 years old.

I was winning the championship and one race before I had a contact with another driver so the federation took the licence away and they were giving me the chance to race and not, so in the end they allowed me to qualify. I qualified second but then in the race they didn’t allow me to race so that was my last experience here in Mexico, so I hope on Sunday will be a lot better.