DRIVERS Ė Nico HULKENBERG (Renault), Max
VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), Carlos SAINZ
(McLaren), George RUSSELL (Williams)
Q: George, you havenít raced at Suzuka before, so how excited are you about
what lies in store this weekend?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, extremely excited. Itís a circuit Iíve been looking
forward to driving for years actually. Itís actually one of the best and
purest out there, so just hoping we donít get rained off tomorrow or
Q: Is there one particular aspect of the track youíre looking forward to the
GR: Iíd say the thing Iím looking forward to the most is probably the
ĎEssesí to start with, you know, such an amazing flow of corners. But just
generally I think the whole circuit is really incredible, so just the whole
experience of it.
Q: Can we take stock and reflect on your first season in Formula 1. What
have you learned and has F1 met your pre-season expectations?
GR: I think it has met my pre-season expectations, just the whole Formula 1
rollercoaster itself. I wasnít 100% sure what to expect but Iím really happy
with how the season has gone generally. From the good moments personally to
the tougher times I wouldnít change anything at all because especially from
the tougher times Iíve learned a huge amount and generally being in the
position I have been, at the back of the grid, itís given me an opportunity
to just explore a bit more and go under the radar and hopefully that will
help me out in years to come when we should be fighting.
Q: Thanks, enjoy the weekend ahead and good luck. Max, Hondas home race this
weekend. Has it been a particularly busy build-up for you?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, yeah it has been. On Tuesday the whole day. But
actually I got to drive the very first Honda F1 car so that was actually
quite cool. But I guess itís more than normal that you start a bit early
this week with some commitments.
Q: And how was the RA272, the car with which Honda won that Mexican Grand
Prix back in 1965?
MV: I didnít fit in very well; I was a bit stuck. It was just a really cool
Q: Now letís throw it forward to this weekend. What can we expect from you
and Red Bull. Youíve scored a podium for the last three years at Suzuka.
Given a clean race is a fourth consecutive podium realistic?
MV: Thatís definitely the target. First, also, letís wait and see how the
weekend is going to go and also with the weather, but of course weíll try to
do our very best this weekend to have a good result.
Q: Thanks. Nico, youíve enjoyed a purple patch recently and youíve reached
Q3 in the last four races. Youíve also go a new front wing this weekend, so
what are you expecting from the car and from yourself this weekend?
Nico HULKENBERG: I think itís kind of the same build-up business as usual.
Obviously we want to score as many points as possible on Sunday. Weíre still
fighting in the championship and itís just about getting the maximum out of
the car and ourselves, especially Saturday but Sunday.
Q: And this new front wing?
NH: Yeah, itís new, so weíll see how that copes and if it brings something
to the party or not.
Q: OK, letís throw it further forward now. Lots of your fans are waiting to
hear about your plans for next year. Has there been any movement? Is there
anything you can say?
NH: No, frankly not. Thereís no news, so itís a little bit more of a
patience game, so Iíll have to and see a little bit longer.
Q: Carlos, great race in Sochi for you and youíre now looking to score your
50th points finish in Formula 1. How confident are you of achieving that
this weekend at Suzuka?
Carlos SAINZ: Fairly confident. I think this year whenever we have been
doing solid weekends like we did in Russia we have been in a very strong
position to score points. Those first three races at the beginning of the
season and those first three races in the second half of the season that put
us a bit on the back foot but hopefully after Sochi we are back to scoring
points. I didnít know that stat, that 50th points scoring, but it would be a
nice thing to do here in Suzuka.
Q: You talk about some races that put you on the back foot. Well, youíve
already scored 66 points this year, which is more than any others season in
your Formula 1 career. How much satisfaction does that give you?
CS: Yeah, itís quite a lot of satisfaction obviously because we didnít know
coming into the year more or less where we were going to be so scoring so
many points, seeing the hard work of the tea, paying off and putting
together, whenever weíre in the points, solid points finishes Ė P6s, P7s,
P5s. Itís really good news. Weíre still very far from where we want to be.
We want to make good progress in the next couple of years but at least this
year we made a very big step forward and thatís a good starting point.
Q: You say you want to make progress, well in 2021 McLaren are going to be
using Mercedes power units. Your thoughts on that deal?
CS: Obviously itís a deal for the future. At the moment we are focused on
our relationship with Renault, which honestly has helped us a lot Ė to
realize our own problems and to realize where we need to work the most,
thanks to last yearís competitiveness with Renault and Red Bull we could
judge our package better thanks to that engine and thanks to the progress
Renault has done on this yearís power unit we are actually scoring a lot of
points. The Mercedes deal is part of the plan, to our road to recovery,
letís put it like that, and hopefully that will also give us another good
Q: Charles, thank you for waiting. Youíre top scorer in the last four races.
How confident are you of Ferrariís performance this weekend?
Charles LECLERC: Yeah, itís working pretty well since we came back from
holidays. The car feels great. Weíve had, I think, four poles in a row,
which is always nice. The last two races have been a bitÖ not what I
expected, but the performance is there, which is the most important, and
there are no reasons for us not to be competitive this weekend. So, yeah,
weíll see how it goes. I think we need to focus on the Friday especially.
Saturday seems to be very tricky, if not impossible to drive, so Friday will
be very important. And I hope we can have a very positive Sunday.
Q: You say the last couple of races have been a bit tricky, obviously Russia
didnít go as smoothly as you would have hoped. How were your discussions
with the team and with Sebastian after the race?
CL: Yeah, obviously there was some misunderstanding from the car but I think
weíve had a discussion and everything is clear now. Obviously it felt like
it was a huge deal from the outside Ė which it definitely wasnít but yeah,
now everything is fine.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson Ė Auto Action / Speed Sport) George, on paper, the car on
race results is where it was at the start of the year Ė but how much has the
GR: Itís definitely improved a lot, just in the driveability side of things.
So, from within, itís definitely a nicer car to drive. It is obviously,
always difficult to make huge leaps forward for any team but I think the
foundations we have in place now are really positive going into next year.
Weíre trialling a new front wing this weekend, which shouldnít necessarily
bring much performance to this yearís car but should hopefully unlock quite
a lot for us moving into 2020, so Iíve got faith we should be fighting.
Probably towards the lower end of the midfield but hopefully in the mix much
more than we are at the moment.
Q: (Frederic Ferret Ė LíEquipe) Question for Charles Leclerc. Sorry to come
back to the subject. Did you have talks with Mattia Binotto and Seb Vettel
since last race in Russia. Did you go to Maranello when Seb was there?
CL: No, unfortunately I had some things happening on the day he was in
Maranello, so we didnít have the chance to meet-up together Ė but I had a
meeting with Mattia and he had one with Seb the day earlier. Yeah,
everything is fine, as Iíve said.
Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) To all five drivers please. At the moment we
do have the topic of the typhoon thatís expected to hit the area on
Saturday. Obviously the FIA and F1 are monitoring the situation Ė but just
from a driversí perspective, you know what itís like driving these cars and
these tyres in the wet. How much rain do you really need where itís a
position where itís unsafe for you to go on track? Do you want to be
consulted when it comes to deciding whether it goes ahead on Saturday?
NH: Yeah, I think weíve seen in recent years that, in terms of rain, we
donít need too much for it to be unsafe. Especially when you throw wind in
there as well. It gets, I think, pretty tricky. We can obviously debate a
lot and discuss but I think we just have to wait and see what actually hits
us and how bad it is, or not, and make the right call at the time. Obviously
thereís a lot of fans here. We want to race; they want to see us drive. So,
I think we need to try and make this weekend happen Ė but obviously we need
to see what happens and weíre at the mercy of the weather there.
MV: Iíve got my speedboat on standby so Iím ready to go for Saturday.
Q: Max, would you like to see the drivers being consulted about the
MV: Yeah, I guess so, but itís going to be very clear anyway if itís
possible or not. At the moment, it doesnít really look very likely on
Saturday. Sunday looks fine. Yeah, letís see.
CL: Yeah, as Max said, I think itís pretty clear if the typoon is going to
come here thereís no way we can drive but off my previous experience Ė and
Iíve only done one year and a half in Formula One but theyíve always been
quite safe with the conditions. So yeah, theyíve always asked what we
thought about the track once weíre in the car. So, yeah, happy. We will see.
Q: And Carlos?
CS: Nothing to add. I have full trust in Michael and his team that we will
run in safe conditions if we do so. Hockenheim is a good example. The first
five laps of the race it was clearly a bit too wet and until the drivers
there in the midfield, we didnít say it was safe enough, it wasnít clearly
green flag. So, itís not a problem for me.
Q: And George?
GR: Not much to add. As the guys said, it will be pretty clear come Saturday
what the situation will be. I think we can handle quite a lot of water. Itís
just the standing puddles and the aquaplaning that is the biggest limitation
for us. So, like Carlos said, Iím sure theyíll make the right decision.
Q: (Rik Spekenbrink Ė AD Sportwereld) Question for Max. If qualifying will
be postponed until Sunday, how would that change your approach and routine
towards qualifying and the race, and also for the team?
MV: Bit more free time on Saturday and waking up a little bit earlier on a
Sunday. I mean, we have done it before. From my side, I have experienced it
once before, I think in Austin 2015? So, yeah, it is what it is. It doesnít
really affect me.
CS: More FIFA!
MV: Yeah, I brought it here, so if you want to have a game on Saturday.
CS: Always up for it.
MV: If youíre ready to loseÖ
CS: HmmmÖ we will see.
Q: (Giusto Ferronato Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport) Charles, at this point of
the season what is more important for you: to help Ferrari to stay in front
of Red Bull or stay in front of your teammate?
CL: Well, I think as a team itís always a priority to do good for the team
but then as (in) every team, Seb wants to beat me, I want to beat him as
much but yeah, the priority is to do good for the team which (is what) we
Q: (Jake Michaels Ė ESPN) To the four guys who have driven here before: can
you just describe what itís like to drive this track, particularly the first
sector, the difficulties and why itís so enjoyable?
CS: I think not only the first sector, I think the whole track just has a
very good flow and a very good sequence of corners. I think the fact that
the track also penalises mistakes in the first sector and maybe put a wheel
wrong you have a chance ofÖ not crashing but putting it in the gravel also
makes the adrenalin and also the difficulty of the track a bit harsher.
Because of that, I think many Formula One drivers we miss these kind of
tracks. I wish, like in the future, we can go towards designing these kind
of tracks instead of others where Ė and Iím not going to mention now Ė but
yeah, I really like it, the fact that itís also a bit narrower than the
average track and in sector one makes it a bit more demanding. So it has a
lot of things Ė elevation changesÖ a lot of things that make it really
CL: The first sector, I absolutely love it. As Carlos said, you canít make
any mistakes and the fact that you need to be so precise in every corner
otherwise you are late for the other and you lose quite a lot of lap time
makes it quite challenging for us. I really enjoy driving here.
MV: Yeah, good flow. Yeah, itís the first sector, right, that you wanted to
know (about). We were actually talking about the first sector. Really good
combination of corners, especially in qualifying on low fuel itís really
enjoyable. Of course itís more enjoyable if you have a good car balance as
well but Iím counting on that. Itís always good to be here, itís one of my
favourite tracks. Is that good enough?
NH: Yeah, itís just very quick and dynamic and everything that these guys
have said. Itís a very good package as a track.
Q: (Jens Nagler Ė Bild) Nico, you have had a pretty good run since the
summer break, closing up to your teammate points-wise, but still no drive
for next year. Is there any scenario you can think of that doesnít see you
in a race car next year? What are the options?
NH: Pizza baker? No. You mean in Formula One or in general? General. I guess
there is that scenario but to be honest, if it wasnít to continue here,
after that, honestly I havenít given (it) that much thought. I think, also
for me personally, I would take some time to get clarity over what I want,
find a new challenge. Of course I will be in some racing car again in the
future because thatís what I love doing, itís my passion so I think only
time will tell what happens then.
Q: (Andrew Benson Ė BBC Sport) Charles, you said everythingís clear now
between you and the team and Sebastian. What exactly is clear? How do you
all have to behave in those situations in the future? Do you have to obey
team orders as didnít happen in Russia? Howís it going to work?
CL: Yeah, I think thatís clear from the beginning of the season, we need to
obey team orders and what is clear is that the situation wasnít clear for
both of the drivers, starting the race, and I think thatís the most
important (thing). So we spoke about it and weíll make sure that this
situation doesnít happen again in the future.
Q: (Julien Biliotte Ė AutoHebdo) Max, you sounded disappointed if not
resigned after Sochi. How much more patient are you willing to be with Red
Bull Honda before looking at other opportunities to find a
MV: I was not really disappointed but I was also, of course, not very happy
but I think thatís pretty normal whenÖ for me it was a pretty boring race,
you know. I think you will always sound happier when you win or you have a
really exciting race and you finish on the podium and of course maybe the
last few races they have not been our strongest but I believe we can do
better and we are working very hard of course to make that happen but I
think it would be wrong if I would come out of the race in Sochi and be very
happy to the cameras, so we just keep pushing very hard and for the future,
I donít know. Iím not too worried about it, I just want to win and I will do
my very best all the time and so is the team trying to do so. Yeah, letís