Monthly Archives: September 2016

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Team Principals Press Conference Transcript

_ony9909

Here’s the official transcript from the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Team Principals Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Franz TOST (Toro Rosso), Robert FERNLEY (Force India), David RYAN (Manor), Eric BOULLIER (McLaren)

PRESS CONFERENCE

A question to all of you, we asked the other team principals the same question in Singapore, your thoughts on the arrival of Liberty Media in Formula One, what it means for the sport, and in particular what it means for the smaller and medium-sized teams?

Robert Fernley (referred here after as RF):- I met Chase Carey for the first time, I found him extremely approachable and willing to listen, but I think it’s far too early to make any predictions of where things are going to go or even opinions on that. I think they need time to be able to look at where they are going and what plans they have for Formula One and then once they make their announcements on the direction they want to go I think then maybe we can make some comments but it’s too early to judge at this point.

David?

David Ryan (referred here after as DR):- Well, I’ve never met the guy, so I can’t really comment from that point of view. I know what I’ve read, which is the same as the rest of you. Really, it’s a case of waiting. I’m sure that he didn’t buy into it not to make any changes and I wait to see what happens and see how it all pans out, but I’m sure it’s all good news.

And Franz, your thoughts, particularly with reference to the medium-sized and smaller teams?

Franz Tost (referred here after as FT):- First of all, congratulations to Liberty Media for this fantastic deal, because Formula One in the meantime is a very well known trademark all over the world, thanks to Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley – they have done a fantastic job over the last 40 years.

I assume that Liberty Media, as they belong to a very financially strong group, have a quite clear programme and plan of what they want to do with Formula One. Personally, I hope that Formula One will become much more interesting in America, that we will hopefully have three races over there – one on the east coast, one in Austin and one on the west coast – and I expect that especially on the media side they will work on our weak platform, the digital media and social media, and then for the smaller teams, from 2021 onwards, the money is being distributed in a much fairer way and equal to the teams and last but not least, together with the FIA, they will find a way to reduce costs in Formula One.

OK. Eric, obviously McLaren is not a smaller team, but your thoughts on the above?

Eric Boullier (referred here after as EB):- Well, at McLaren we are very positive about the arrival of Liberty. They are used managing big business, connecting fans to media, so we believe it’s good for Formula One. At the same time, I think they will take their time to understand the business, where they want to bring the business, the show, the entertainment, to which level. We will see what they suggest and plan.

OK. Moving on Eric, tell us about the strategy around the updated Honda power unit this weekend and looking forward to next weekend in Suzuka. It seems to perform quite well today in the back of Fernando Alonso’s car, what’s decision on Jenson Button and where is this power unit improved?

EB: It’s mainly reliability-driven, so it’s a reinforced block and a few things on the engine. There is a possibility to exploit the PU a little bit better, but it’s not definitely right… not just pure power on top. So it’s mainly reliability-driven. I think we are happy with today, we did a lot of miles with no issue at all, so it’s just a green light for the future, for the end of the season. And as far as Jenson is concerned, when the mileage of his PUs reach the limit we will swap the engine.

That won’t be this weekend.

EB: No, not this weekend.

Thank you. Robert coming to you, Williams’ Rob Smedley recently said that his team should not get too hung up on its battle with Force India for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, but what’s your team’s stance? Are you diverting resource to continue to develop this car to make sure you get that P4 finish?

RF: No, not at all. Our focus in terms of the design side is on the ’17 car and has been for some while. But I think there is more to come out of the ’16 package from a track engineering point of view and we continue to get performance out of it every week and as long as that happens we can hopefully take the battle to Williams all the way.

Thank you. Coming to you Dave, Esteban Ocon was here yesterday, saying in the Drivers’ Press Conference that it’s been quite tough to come into Formula One halfway through the season. So how do you, as the boss, assess his performance relative Wehrlein’s, given that Haryanto outqualified Wehrlein several times?  

DR: I think Esteban is quite right. To arrive part way through the season into a team that has been developing along with Pascal is a big ask. We haven’t helped the situation because he hasn’t had the best of reliability up until now. But the kid’s fantastic. He’s got a fantastic attitude, he’s got huge potential and together with him and Pascal it’s a great driving line-up.

Q: Franz, we heard again here yesterday in the drivers’ conference Dany Kvyat saying he’s rediscovered his love for Formula One after the performance, the drive in Singapore last time out. How good a performance do you feel it was and is there still time for him to retain his seat for next year?

FT: He showed in Singapore a very good performance and it’s good to hear that he still loves Formula One, especially if he is driving for Toro Rosso. Daniil Kvyat is a high-skill driver, you know this because there’s a reason behind that he won the GP3 European Championship, and the way how he won it. He lost it a little bit in the last months but fortunately he is coming back. I hope that he will also do for the rest of the season good races that he shows his talent and his potential – and then we will see what happens in the future.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Kate Walker – motorsport.com) I’ve got a question for all of you please. One of the things that we have heard about the change in ownership is the potential introduction of a franchise system. I was wondering both what your individual opinions were and, if they differ from your owner or boards opinion, what the official stance was on the potential of a franchise operation?

Robert?

RF: I think… I mean the devil is always in the detail Kate, and I think we have to wait again and see what they’re proposing in terms of how the franchise is going to work up or whether it’s either going to be a full franchise program. But I think something that is giving Formula One stability, more importantly I think something that is anchoring the teams into Formula One, because it takes four or five years to build a team and whilst owners do come and go, the teams tend to be the same teams being transferred.

I think it would be very, very good for the teams to have that stability and that security going forward. If the owner comes in and they perform well, then hopefully he or she can make a profit. If they don’t, then they take a small loss. It’s part of the trading. But I think it is a different view for Formula One and one that we should look at very positively.

David?

DR: Actually I think Bob put it very well and I support that view. I’ve heard lots of different approaches they’re going to take but until we get something firmly on the table, I can’t really comment. Bob’s view is correct.

Franz?

FT: I think it’s quite early days to discuss this and to think about this. We will see then, it’s a decision of Red Bull whether they buy shares on it or not and for the rest we will see.

And Eric.

EB: It’s difficult to have a strong opinion at this stage, y’know? Just based on the word ‘franchise’. We need to see the details of what they want to achieve. We don’t have yet the full picture, so I can’t have a strong opinion on this obviously. I think yes, what Bob said is true. If everything is happier in a better world everybody will be happy. Today I don’t know what’s going on, what’s going to happen yet.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Bob, it’s a year virtually to the day since you and Sauber registered a complaint with the EU Commission in Brussels. First of all I’d like to know some progress to date in the past year but before we do that, I’m now advised from Brussels that you and Sauber are possibly looking at filing some complaint in the US as well, an anti-trust complaint. If you could comment on that as well please and give us some idea of the progress. And then the other three, have you received requests for information from the commissioner in connection with this particular case.

RF: Yes, let’s… probably start from the beginning I think Dieter is the easiest one. Yes, we have put the complaint, that’s common knowledge, I think about a year ago, it has gone through due process and I can confirm it has gone to next level in terms of a request for further information from the EU. Who those have been sent to, I don’t know.

From our point of view, because we’re in legal process with them, we can’t say anything about what we’re doing – but I can confirm it is at that stage from an EU point of view. With regard to your question on the US legal matters, I think, you know, it’s not appropriate for us to discuss something where we’re getting legal advice.

It’s probably a bit speculative – but for sure everything is still on the table from our side. We are very, very committed to challenging what we believe is a very anti-competitive system with these bi-lateral agreements. Whatever it takes to deliver that, we will certainly look at.

And the second part of the question, to the other three, have you been requested any information from the EU? Eric?

EB: No.

Franz?

FT: No

David?

DR: Not that I’m aware of.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speedsport) Gentlemen, the provisional calendar for next year is another 21 races. The new owners of Formula One are on record saying they want to add more races. At what point do you have to start rotating crew and would you have to add staff or is there enough back at home to do that?

EB: I think we are at the limit already so if there would be more races, we would have to have a rotating system with staff people. And no, we don’t have reserve people back in the factory so that means we would have to hire some people.

FT: That’s the same. I think that 20/21 races is quite a good number and if additional races come onto the calendar we also would have to think of a rotating system to bring in more people, because otherwise it’s difficult to handle everything but if we have more races, we also have more income and therefore it shouldn’t be a problem. In the end, there must be a profit for the teams otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

DR: I go back to the days when we had 14 races and that was too many so… Twenty-one feels like it’s too many but if they’re talking 25 races…  Dan, I guess it depends what the package is. Maybe they are two-day events, maybe it’s a different format. Again, until we know what they really are asking for or what they’re thinking of, it may be that it works or not. We just have to wait and see.

RF: Same as Eric. We would need to increase the personnel significantly to be able to bring in reserves.

Q: (Chris Lyons – AP) Bob, in Singapore Sergio said that he felt sure that his contract would be organised by the time we got to Malaysia. Now he’s saying if it doesn’t happen by Japan, he’s going to look elsewhere. Can you give us some insight into what the hold-up is? Is it the commercial aspect, sponsorship aspect of the contract or is there something else?

RF: No, there’s nothing else. The driver contracts have been completed for quite some time, as you know. Vijay announced that some time ago and it’s literally dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the commercial side and if it takes a week, that’s wonderful, if it takes a couple of weeks, so be it. It’ll happen, we’re very confident that Checo will be with us next year. I don’t think we ever deviated from that.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Eric, there’s a report in Autosport this week that Honda are expanding their facilities in the UK in preparation or possible preparation for a second team. The way that I understand it McLaren needs to approve this. Is it something that McLaren’s in favour of? Would McLaren like to see a second team and what sort of level of development are we at given that you’re partners?

EB: Well, we had a position in the past, obviously, where we both agree with Honda that it would be better to focus on us, on one team. As you know, the regulations have changed as well. In the future there will be some obligation for an engine manufacturer, and I think that at some stage it’s going to be interesting for maybe Honda and the McLaren-Honda package as well to have another team but we don’t know when, so we see this as them just making themselves ready with the possibility in the future that it can happen but so far we are still one team and focused on McLaren.

Q: (Chris Lyons – AP) Just to follow up to that question to the other three: it’s clearly too late for 2017 but would you be interested in a Honda supply and how soon could that happen?

FT: We have a Renault contract.

DR: I think we’ve got the best engine on the grid in our car at the moment so we’re fairly OK with that.

RF: We’re also committed through to 2020 with our engine supplier and have a very strong relationship with Mercedes.

Advertisements

Perez may look into other options if F1 future is not settled in a week

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Singapore Grand Prix - Preparation Day - Singapore, Singapore

In an interview with the media today, Force India driver Sergio Perez has warned he might look at other options beyond Formula 1 if his future is not resolved by the end of next week.

Perez was rumoured to be going to Renault for the 2017 season but it was only for a lack of clarity behind the scenes to scupper the move, Perez is almost certain to remain with Force India for 2017.

But continued delays in getting the deal over the line mean an element of doubt remains, with Perez setting a deadline of next week’s Japanese Grand Prix to finalise matters or he will consider a move elsewhere in F1 or other motorsport.

In his interview today, Perez believes that a decision needs to be made before the end of next week regarding his future plans in the sport or in other series. Perez said the following:-

‘I believe that next week is crucial to sort out my future, so by next week I need to know if the option [to stay in F1] remains or if I have to look somewhere else. I really hope by next weekend we will all know. It’s obviously taking longer than expected, but it’s all going in the right direction, so I hope next weekend we will know.’

When asked to explain the hold up with an deal in F1 further on in his interview today, Perez replied with the following:-

‘My deals are quite complicated in that my sponsors have to do deals as well, so we have to make sure everything is in place. Hopefully they can come to an agreement soon because if they don’t then it will be quite difficult.’

Perez has confirmed to the media today that he is “concentrating on one team”, adding:-

‘There are some interesting options on the table. At the moment I hope it works out with one team, and if it doesn’t then by next week we will have to look at something else. Obviously I want to keep my career in Formula 1 going, but I cannot wait much longer.’

Perez finally added that he is “not worried” as he believes himself to be “in a good position” career wise. Perez added the following:-

‘Thankfully there is a lot of interest out there that makes you feel that way. At the end of the day if things don’t work out as planned then you have to look at somewhere else, but it’s not something that bothers me too much.’

Perez has dismissed suggestions of waiting until his home race in Mexico at the end of October to make any kind of announcement. Perez stated the following:-

‘I don’t think I can take that long because the longer you take the fewer options are available, and people are not going to wait forever for you.’

Speculation has surfaced in the paddock over the last few days that the reason behind the delay is Perez is only looking for a one-year deal in order to keep his options open for 2018 and a potential move to Ferrari. Perez said the following when asked about this further:-

‘Other people are saying that, but for me it’s more important going into the next generation of cars with a team I know, and with people around me I know, and build from that. I don’t even know where I’ll be in 2017, so 2018 is miles ahead.’

Haas will not be signing Leclerc for the 2017 season

i

In an interview with the media today, Haas boss Gunther Steiner has ruled out the possibility of promoting Charles Leclerc to a full-time Formula One drive for 2017, stating a rookie is “not an option” for the team.

Ferrari protégé Leclerc leads the GP3 championship by 24 points with two rounds to go and has been linked with a race seat at Haas following his strong performances in the feeder series, as well as impressing during three practice outings for the American outfit in Britain, Hungary and Germany.

To stand any chance of gaining an F1 seat for next year, Leclerc must win the GP3 title in order to accumulate the 40 points needed to qualify for a superlicence.

When asked by the media today that if signing a young driver is a possibility for Haas, Steiner replied with the following:-

‘A rookie is not an option at the moment, it’s not the thing we want to do. I think in the position we are in, he [Leclerc] is too inexperienced. I wouldn’t say too young, I mean Max Verstappen does a good job, but it’s difficult that you get in two years two 18-year-olds that are rockets. But the main reason; we highly respect what Leclerc is doing in FP1, he was on the game immediately, but what we need is more somebody who can score points.’

Further on in his interview today, Steiner believes experience is key for Haas with new regulations on the horizon for 2017 and highlighted the reluctance of the team to sign Alexander Rossi at the end of last year, after the American took part in five of the last seven races for Manor in 2015. Steiner added the following:-

‘We need to train the team basically, we cannot train a driver. As I always said when I was asked last year about Alexander Rossi — that could break somebodies career. We are still relatively new next year, we are the second year, if we take a new driver and he doesn’t perform it could be us as well that don’t perform. Why would you take a risk? For sure take a risk if there is no other opportunity, so they take the risk, they would take it but then if it doesn’t work out for sure we would be blamed and that I think is not right.

‘We need to look after ourselves and make the team bigger so we are ready for young talent. We are in a good position to wait, therefore we are waiting because there is nothing moving a lot up that end.’

Alonso receives 30 place grid penalty for the Malaysian GP

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Fernando_Alonso

In an interview with the media this afternoon, Fernando Alonso faces an 30 place grid penalty for the Malaysian GP and has stated that he believes it was always going to happen at some point before the end of the season.

Alonso is running Honda’s updated engine during Friday practice this weekend, but will switch back to the old-spec power unit for the race. In doing so he will incur a 30-place grid penalty for changing the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics, but will be able to race his Friday engine for the first time without a penalty at Honda’s home race in Japan.

In an interview with the media this afternoon, Alonso stated the following about the potential grid penalty this weekend as follows:-

‘We knew we had a plan from the middle of the season of where to introduce new engines, I lost one in Australia in the accident, and we were on engine number two in the second race. We had some further problems.

‘So we knew these penalties would come, and one of the best places was Spa because of the conditions of our engines at that point. The second best was maybe Malaysia because the weather could play a big factor in the race, and also Japan is the next race, our home grand prix, and we want to arrive there with some safety in terms of reliability.

‘We’re ready to take the penalty. In Spa, starting last, I was fourth or fifth after many incidents, so you never know. We will start the weekend and the race optimistic about the chance of being in the points, and that’s the target for both cars, even if I start last then hopefully we can recover places quite soon.’

Alonso caused controversy a year ago when he referred to his Honda power unit as a GP2 engine over team radio at the Japanese Grand Prix. Further on in his interview today, Alonso believes the quote was blown out of proportion by the media but also praised the step forward Honda has made in the last 12 months. Alonso added the following:-

‘Yeah, my radio messages first of all are quite interesting all the time. I’ve heard many radio drivers from other drivers, world champion drivers, and they don’t have that impact, so it means I’m more funny, or something like that, which is good.

‘I think we change a lot from last year. The engine last year was not ready to compete. I said from the beginning of the year, in all the interviews, our boss from Honda was saying the project was immature and we were learning a lot of things, and in the process to improve the engine.

‘So I was not saying anything differently. This year we are all saying the same thing, which is we’ve made a lot of progress, we are happy with the direction we are going and we are able to compete with all the other teams.’

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference Transcript

_ony8947

Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Drivers Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS – Jenson BUTTON (McLaren), Felipe MASSA (Williams), Esteban OCON (Manor), Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Nico HULKENBERG (Force India), Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

PRESS CONFERENCE

Jenson let’s start with you. Your 300th grand prix, only the third driver to do it, it’s a big number. What does your place in Formula One history mean to you?

Jenson Button (referred here after as JB):- That’s a good question that deserves a very long answer and I’m not going to give it to you here. It means I have been around for a hell of a long time. I remember when Rubens got to 300 – it was unbelievable that he’d reached 300 grands prix. I was like, “I’m never going to race for that long”. I remember when I started in 2000 – I’m not going to give you my life story – but when I started in 2000 I remember speaking to my dad and he said: “How long do you think you’re going to race for?” and I said: “No! I’ll be done by the time I’m 30 years old.”

And here I am at 36 and this weekend I’m starting my 300th grand prix. It definitely sucks you in, Formula One. It doesn’t let go for a long time, as long as you are performing. So it’s been a great ride to 300. Lots of ups and downs, as every career will have, and the important thing is that you stay on top of those bad times and you enjoy the good times as much as you can, because you never know how long they are going to last.

A very exciting career to this point, 300 races, and if any of these guys can achieve it around me, fair play to them, because it’s a long time doing the same thing.

Now, Honda have said, going into this weekend, they’re going to review whether to use updated power units, presumably with tokens used, during the weekend at some point. What will be the decisive factors and what would you personally like to do from a strategic point of view looking at this race and at their home grand prix in Suzuka?

JB: Obviously they don’t want to take any penalties in Suzuka, which is completely understandable. It’s basically our second home race. Here – I can’t speak for the other car – but I personally won’t be having a penalty. It will be a normal weekend for me.

OK, that’s very clear, thank you very much for that. Nico Hulkenberg, coming to you, Force India are now fourth in the Constructors’ and have outscored Williams 39 to 19 in the last five races. Is there a belief in the team that you can beat them at the end of the season?   

Nico Hulkenberg (referred here after as NH):- Yeah, absolutely, of course. We’re doing well, especially since Barcelona the second half has been quite successful. The scores and the points back that up. But obviously there is still a long way to go. For us we definitely aim for and target that’s fourth place, but Sunday night in Abu Dhabi, that’s when we count everything and that’s when we have to be ahead. Now it’s a tight margin, they’re not going to give it to us for free. We have to work for it and yeah, make it work.

Let’s throw that same question to Felipe. Is that scoring ratio causing concerns internally at Williams and how are you addressing it?

Felipe Massa (referred here after as FM):- It’s definitely a big fight. So they are doing a very good championship. I think they improved the car a lot during the season. I believe we can fight them to the end and I believe maybe we can finish in front of them. But you don’t know. You will count race to race the amount of points we are doing compared to them, so I would say some of the tracks you have now are a bit better than some of the tracks we did, like maybe Singapore, the road tracks where they really have a very quick and competitive car. The circuits now are a little bit better for us, but the fight will be race by race and I hope we can do it.

And back to Nico Hulkenberg: you’re both using the same engine, so what’s giving your side the added value?

NH: The car hopefully. It is close and I think it will be a battle all the way to the end. I think good clean weekends, consistent from here is very important, maximise the opportunities we get, and yeah, that will determine at the end who will be fourth.

We’ll move on to Dany Kvyat and come back to Felipe in a moment. You said after the Singapore Grand Prix performance that you had rediscovered your love for Formula One after a tough few months. Why? What was so special about that race for you?

Daniil Kvyat (referred here after as DK):- Well, it was an enjoyable race first of all, first time in a while, because we managed to have a good start. We were fighting all the race for quite high positions and it was a bit of a relief for the whole team to find ourselves fighting for the usual positions we used to fight for. Even though maybe the final result left us slightly disappointed, but the race itself was exciting. It was full of good fights. It was always promising pace. Our car was quite kind with the tyres and hopefully it’s a good confidence boost for the whole team, including myself.

It’s no secret that Toro Rosso lost the way a little bit with an update introduced around the time of the German Grand Prix, which seems to have been rectified now, so how confidently do you approach the reaming races of the championship?

DK: Well, like I said, Singapore gave us good indications. Obviously there were a lot of tests carried out by the people in the team and hopefully there was a few things discovered. Obviously we had a good Singapore but now we need a few more confirmations and hopefully they will arrive here in Sepang, even though the track layout is a bit different, maybe not as favourable as Singapore. Probably it won’t be an easy one for us but we will hope to have another confirmation that we are moving in the right direction from Singapore onwards.

Q: You made the announcement in Monza about your retirement at the end of this season, it’ll be your 250th grand prix in Abu Dhabi. Do you now arrive at these grands prix between now and the end of the season with a slightly different mindset? Are you determined to enjoy every experience, to take the most out of every grand prix?

FM: Yes, definitely! I’ll just enjoy massively doing what I’m doing – since I always did in my life. In a way you can say I have less pressure now – but we do have a lot of pressure with this fight with Force India. I just want to give everything I can to finish well, to get the fourth place in the Championship and enjoy every race, enjoy every moment.

I’m still really happy with my decisions so I’m sure there’s a lot to do in life for this second step so, as Jenson was saying before, it’s a really long career, so even if we are pretty young… y’know you stop pretty young, he’s 36, I’m 35 and you’re like, retired! That’s why there’s still a lot of things to do in life. I’m really ready for that and happy. I’ll have a little bit more time at home as well.

So, yeah, just thinking… so many things for the future and enjoying every race, every moment in different countries, different places. Really it’s fantastic to see all the support from the fans. From everybody around the sport. Enjoying the moment.

Q: Esteban, you’ve finished all of your grands prix so far. How do you assess your performance in qualifying and race compared with your team-mate?

EO: Coming into the season with less experience, of course, it’s not an easy thing. We had some ups and downs I think. We are pretty happy with the first grand prix we did. I improved quite a lot during the weekend. Of course it was my first grand prix so the pace was not great but we were pretty happy with that. Then unfortunately in the second qualifying in Monza we had a problem so we couldn’t show our pace, but I think we could have done a great result there. And in Singapore it has been a bit more difficult. So, we have to put all the details together and come back stronger for this race.

Q: If you look back through recent history, Alonso, Ricciardo, they all started out in a similar level team to the one you’re in at the moment, to learn the ropes in Formula One. Do you think another year at that level would be good for your development – especially, as you say, given that you came in, in a difficult situation quite late this year?

EO: For sure. The more you drive, and more you take experience. Any year, any races would help me. For sure. Getting in, after three races, you start to discover everything and start to build up a strong relationship with the team and see how they work. It’s a lot of details that you have to put right and once they are right, you can start to see some performance.

Q: Nico, Mercedes can wrap up its third consecutive Constructors’ Championship this weekend. How does this year compare from the team’s point of view to the two previous ones. What’s stood out for you about this year?

NR: It’s been another incredible year really. Every time we think it can never repeat itself and be as good as that again, and yet we manage to do it again. And this year as well now, so early in the season we have the opportunity to clinch the Constructors’ Championship, which is phenomenal. Everybody’s done an unbelievable job. Very impressive.

Q: It’s an open secret that the Mercedes team feel that your qualifying lap in Singapore is the best that you’ve driven since you’ve been with them – and Toto Wolff said it was the most complete, I think, performance he’d seen from you across the whole race weekend. What can you take out of that Singapore weekend that will make you a consistently strong competitor to the end of the season?

NR: I don’t need to take anything from the Singapore weekend. It was a great result, great weekend and all, so I’m very happy about that, but now it’s in the past. Now I’m here in Sepang and ready to go. Of course I believe that I have a great chance to win here as well. Just going to try to go for that.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, you are all the time insisting that you are not thinking about the championship. How can you avoid it when you are leading the championship?

NR: It’s not that I don’t think about it – I’m aware of the situation, I’m aware of the points and whatever else – that’s fine but I try and focus on the race weekend I have in front of me because that’s been working really well for me to do that and not think about anything else. That’s it. I want to win here in Sepang and I’m going to go for that.

Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Daily Telegraph) Another one for Nico. You guys leave no stone unturned in trying to beat each other – just out of interest, does that extend to things like the event you and Lewis were doing at the mall the other day? Are there silly little games that go on? Do you try and unsettle each other, nobble each other, anything like that?

NR: It’s not quite that extreme, that we’d be doing stuff at the mall, no. It’s not. But yes, for sure, we’ll be pushing each other very hard on the race track and even off the race track in many different areas, yeah, definitely. It’s a great battle and everything counts.

Q: (Chris Lyons- AP) Felipe, the calendar for next season came out with an asterisk next to Brazil saying it’s to be confirmed. Are you disappointed with the state of things in Brazil and how confident are you that it will stay on the calendar?

FM: Well, to be honest, I think it’s very difficult to answer in a proper way. We are just racing and we don’t know what’s happened behind (the scenes) with the contracts. Sometimes you just see some pressures over a country because maybe something’s not working like Bernie –  or who decides – is thinking. We know that you always have pressures around. It’s not nice, definitely. Brazil is part of this sport, it’s part of Formula One since a very long time so it would be really disappointing to lose a race in Brazil even if I will not be there. But I will be supporting my country for new Brazilian drivers, so I know the situation in Brazil is not really easy for the moment economically, so this is maybe some fact around this. But you never know, maybe this is just some pressure but maybe this can happen as we saw it happened last year in Germany. I hope it will not happen to Sao Paulo, Interlagos. It’s also one of the most fun and great races to watch so I hope the best for them, for my country, for Brazil and I hope these guys will still enjoy their race in Brazil.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) To all of you, how will the new tarmac affect your way of driving during the Grand Prix?

Q: Let’s start with Jenson; have you done your track walk yet?

JB: Er, no, but I’ve seen lots of pictures. It’s dark so that’s a major difference. I think it’s going to…  with the temperatures that we see here anyway are very high, so if it’s clear then the temperatures are going to be very high on track, which obviously has quite a big effect on the way the tyres work. It’s very smooth, from what I see. Obviously we’re going to try and watch every practice session that runs today. You get a better understanding. What else? And the last corner is obviously very different with the off-camber but yeah, I don’t know if it’s similar to Sochi or not but it seems like it, the bitumen, the way that the asphalt is. So it might be a completely different circuit, but we won’t know until tomorrow, probably get a bit of an understanding from watching GP2 and GP3.

NR: It will be a big challenge because it will be very different and we all need to adapt to the new asphalt, which we don’t know how it’s going to handle here.

EO: I have been around on a track walk but it will be my first time on this track so I come here as I don’t know how it was before.

NH: Neutral, same for everyone but generally the smooth tarmac…  we’ve seen recently we perform quite well on that so hopefully again here.

DK: I think I just copy and paste Jenson’s answer. It was perfect. It’s enough.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS.NL) For the five drivers who raced here before: what is your best Sepang memory?

JB: I’m the oldest. Yeah, I won here which was a pretty good memory, back in ’09. It was also quite a strange race. The rain was so severe that we had to red flag the race and it wasn’t restarted. I won the race but I got half points which was a bit of a pain. It’s always been a great circuit to race on, it’s also the place where I scored my first podium in 2004. I was running in third place in 2002 as well. On the last lap my suspension failed and handed the third place to Michael Schumacher. So that would have been my first podium. So this place… I’ve got lots of memories from here.

FM: Well, actually I always love this place, the circuit, the layout. I never won but I twice started on pole position, 2007, 2008. I will keep those memories but I was never on the podium here. Amazing. But I really love the circuit. I’ve had some great races, even if I wasn’t on the podium. Hope this one will be a better one.

NR: Just the track which is a really cool track to drive on. That’s it.

NH: I think my best or favourite memory would be qualifying 2010, coming here in my rookie year. I think it was only my second event, qualifying went  pretty well, like full wets. In the conditions it was going pretty well, I think I qualified fifth or something so that was good fun and probably my best memory here.

DK: Yeah, actually quite a special track because I did my first ever race here in Formula BMW and won my first ever race in Formula BMW in single seaters, so it’s quite cool memories.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Esteban, you started in the Formula Three European championship when you were very young, you won the championship, you beat future Formula One star Max Verstappen. Then you moved to GP3, in your first season you won the championship. Now you’re in Formula One, the reality is very different. Can you make a comment on the main difficulties you are facing, the challenge is maybe higher than you expected or less?

EO: No, I don’t think it’s harder than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be hard, coming after eleven Grands Prix or twelve Grands Prix. It’s never easy if you come in any championship at halfway through the season, all the drivers have had time to work on everything, on all the points and you arrive, you have to catch up everything again, so of course it’s tough. But at the end, you are working for the same thing and the important thing are the tracks. For sure there is much more things to do in F1 and you work with many more people. But at the end, it’s the same thing and the track is the important bit.

2016 Track Preview: Malaysian Grand Prix, Kuala Lumpur

malaysia_sepang_circuit

Nico Rosberg wins the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third place. Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Renault all managed to achieve points at the event also.

This weekend sees Jenson Button starting his 300th GP. This is a fantastic achievement and congratulations to Jenson on this epic milestone.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is maybe the toughest race of the season for the teams and also the drivers. The weather in Sepang is extremely hot and humid with some of the highest temperatures on the Formula 1 calendar, which makes it a rather physical track and therefore one of the most exhausting circuits. The combination of the track and the climate is also hard on the engines which are running almost 70 percent of the lap at full throttle.

Sepang International Circuit features 15 corners, ten of which are right-handers and the other five  corners being left-handers. The minimum track width is 16 meters. It is raced in a clockwise direction and is noted for its sweeping corners and wide straights. It has two long straights of nearly a kilometer each followed by tight, slow-speed corners, along with several extremely high-speed corners and the widest sections of track around. With its long straights and tight hairpins, there are plenty of overtaking possibilities; if you have the speed to do so.

The tropical climate means that it could rain at any minute, so that is always a bit unpredictable, particularly because when it rains in Malaysia, it really rains like the race in 2012!

For the engineers, the set-up here is one of the toughest of the season. In order to set up the chassis and suspension to cope with the varied nature of the circuit is a complex compromise for the teams and the drivers. The track requires a fairly high level of aerodynamic downforce and excellent car balance. Malaysia’s changeable weather and high temperatures can also result in tyre problems, which also affect the braking deceleration. Tyre management is very important in Malaysia and could affect the top ten finishers of the race.

Now here’s the facts, figures and my predictions heading into the Malaysian Grand Prix…

Facts and Figures

  • Sepang has hosted the Grand Prix since 1999, even though the Malaysia has a long racing tradition as a country.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver to win the Grand Prix with four wins
  • Ferrari are the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with seven wins
  • Race distance: 310.40 (192.76 miles)
  • Number of turns:15
  • Top speed: 300kph
  • Lap record: Juan Pablo Montoya- Williams (2004)- 1.34.223

Last five winners of the Malaysian Grand Prix:-

  • 2011-Sebastian Vettel
  • 2012-Fernando Alonso
  • 2013- Sebastian Vettel
  • 2014-Lewis Hamilton
  • 2015- Sebastian Vettel

My predictions for the top 5 finishers of the Malaysian Grand Prix:-

In no particular order, here’s my predictions on who the top five finishers of the Malaysian Grand Prix will be:-

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Felipe Massa

With regards to my prediction, I believe that based on the performances we have seen in Singapore two weeks ago, the drivers I have selected have the best possible chance to finish in Malaysia. However, we could have a surprise if we get rain headed to the Sepang circuit and if that is the case; then I believe either Nico Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez could be in the top five.

All eyes will be upon Mercedes at the front who have shown in Singapore that they have a fast, consistent and reliable car once again and are the favourites heading into this weekend in Sepang. It is now up to williams, Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso to improve and catch up to them and let’s hope that McLaren have made small improvements to Malaysia.

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted and live coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race this season and also Channel 4 are showing coverage. Details for both are as follows below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 2.45am and 6.45am, Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 6.45am and 9.00am, Sunday (Race) 6.30am
  • Channel Four:- Friday (Practice 2) 6.55am, Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 6.55am and 9.00am, Sunday (Race and Highlights) 7.00am and 4.50pm

WMSC clarify F1 helmet rules

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Chinese Grand Prix - Race Day - Shanghai, China

The rules limiting a driver to one helmet design per season have officially been relaxed at the most recent meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) this week.

The oft-derided rule requires drivers to stick to a single helmet design for the entire season to make them easier to spot for spectators.

However this season has seen a number of drivers have run one-off helmet designs at stand-alone races, with the FIA turning a blind eye to the changes as long as the design reverts to the original livery at the next round.

Now the WMSC has formalised the rule to clarify what is and what is not allowed. In a statement released to the media this evening, the WMSC stated the following on the new rules:-

‘Drivers must continue to present their helmets in substantially the same livery at every event of the FIA Formula One World Championship for easy recognition of the driver in the car.

‘However, a driver will now be allowed one event [such as a home race] for a special livery [at the driver’s choice]. Drivers will also be allowed to change their helmet liveries if changing teams during the season.’