French GP: Thursday’s press convention

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DRIVERS – Pierre GASLY (Toro Rosso,) Romain GROSJEAN (Haas), Esteban OCON (Pressure India), Fernando ALONSO (McLaren).

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: We’re going to begin with the French drivers. It’s the primary French Grand Prix for 10 years and there’s a actual buzz within the paddock about being right here within the south of France. So how particular is it for you as drivers to be right here at your own home race? Romain? 

Romain GROSJEAN: It’s very particular. I got here into Formulation 1 in 2009, the 12 months after the French Grand Prix completed. Then in all of the years I used to be doing [Formula 1] I didn’t hear a lot concerning the French Grand Prix and ultimately all of the rumours began to kick up after which final 12 months we knew we had been going to have a French Grand Prix and right here we’re and it’s wonderful to rediscover Paul Ricard with the grandstand and all these statues, which I believe make it… It appears like an awesome ambiance. The south of France might be the most effective locations on the planet as properly. The climate could be very sort to us and I believe it’s only a stunning place to have a race and really, very a lot trying ahead to going out on monitor.

Q: Thanks very a lot. Esteban, your ideas coming right here, since you’ve raced right here earlier than however clearly not in Formulation 1? 

Esteban OCON: Yeah, I’ve raced right here earlier than. Final time I used to be seated right here there was so much much less folks. I gained in Formulation Renault 2.zero, again within the day, it was my first victory in single seaters. Simply unbelievable reminiscences, to come back again right here feels particular. After all we see the ambiance there’s already on the primary day, which is superior, a number of followers coming round and I can’t wait to be racing for the primary time in entrance of my dwelling crowd.

Q: Thanks. And Pierre, your ideas on your own home race and the way impressed are you with this venue? 

Pierre GASLY: Yeah, actually tremendous impressed. The final time I got here right here was in 2014 and there at the moment are so many grandstands, rather more folks than I used to see right here. I believe we raced with Esteban in 2013 and I raced right here in 2014, I gained Formulation four and likewise in Formulation Renault, so quite a lot of good reminiscences. It’s simply unbelievable to come back again right here for my first dwelling race. We’re fairly fortunate as a result of all the French drivers within the final 10 years didn’t have this privilege. It’s my first season and I get the possibility to race my nation, so a tremendous alternative. Lots of people already for Thursday, so actually trying ahead to seeing how it’s over the following few days.

Q: Romain, if we return to you to take a look at the aggressive side of the weekend. You’ve obtained two younger French abilities alongside you at this time, however the Haas regarded extra to your liking with the improve in Canada. So what are your probabilities of beating these two guys this weekend? 

RG: I believe they’re fairly excessive. The automobile has been working very properly lately – for the reason that starting of the 12 months to be truthful. We’ve had an improve in Canada and I had a superb feeling within the automobile. Sadly we didn’t do quali after which we made our race more durable. However I believe we’re getting in a superb step. So for the 4 of us, P7 is like successful the race for us. That’s clearly our goal for the weekend after which if something occurs in entrance then we take the chance.

Q: Thanks very a lot. Esteban you have got scored factors in every of the final two races? However you had extra factors at this stage final 12 months and the crew has been within the headlines each off the monitor and on it this 12 months. So what has it been like internally? 

EO: Internally, it’s all high quality. We’re working fairly properly to be trustworthy. The primary few races had been troublesome however we now have been bettering the automobile, bringing updates to it, and race by race bettering and in Monaco I believe we actually did the step up. We’ve certified P6 and in Canada we certified into the highest 10 in Q3 and I believe we now have the automobile now to be qualifying properly and to be preventing the highest midfield groups. Up to now we’re fairly pleased with the event and the way all the pieces went. Particularly this weekend, we now have a recent engine within the automobile, so hopefully it’s going to provide us some efficiency.

Q: Talking of recent engines, Pierre you took an influence unit penalty in Canada to make sure you didn’t take one right here , however you climbed by way of the sphere impressively in Canada so how massive a step is the brand new Honda and what are you hoping from it this weekend? 

PG: Yeah, it’s a extremely good step. I believe by way of efficiency it’s clearly a superb assist. We noticed in Canada that we had been in a position to overtake different vehicles – Pressure India, Haas. So, I believe it’s trying fairly good. I believe it’s tremendous tight within the midfield, so in the mean time we nonetheless must progress however I believe we’re bettering by way of consistency and we all know if we put all the pieces collectively we will struggle within the high 10, but when we don’t it’s a bit tougher. It’s a superb alternative right here, as a result of all of the groups have solely realty small expertise of this monitor, so it’s our job to actually work throughout free practices to make the very best out of it and I believe clearly with the upgraded engine we now have a greater likelihood to attain factors.

Q: Thanks. Fernando, thanks for ready. This can be a Formulation 1 press convention but it surely’s additionally an FIA press convention and final weekend you gained one of many largest races in one other FIA championship, so simply inform us about your Le Mans expertise and what it feels prefer to be a Le Mans 24-Hour winner?

Fernando ALONSO: It feels nice. Clearly it has been a long-time dream for me to be there and to expertise Le Mans and it was nice to have the primary alternative and to be in as aggressive a crew as Toyota and to dominate the free apply, the qualifying and the race. It was a contest between the 2 of our vehicles within the storage and ultimately we obtained a little bit bit extra fortunate and a little bit bit most likely set-up. It feels nice however now again to F1 – a triple race in three weekends – and fairly busy between Monaco, Canada, Le Mans and now these three.

Q: As Romain alluded to; seventh place appears to be the best real looking goal for a lot of the groups right here at this time. Simply inform us, from a competitor’s perspective, how do you make that change from successful such a giant race final weekend to having completely different targets this weekend? 

FA: Properly, I believe you know the way Formulation 1 works and what are your targets and your most positions and also you strategy the weekend simply making an attempt to achieve these targets and attempt to enhance the automobile each single race and attempt to develop the automobile as a lot as your opponents. As all of our buddies right here, we’re optimistic with the upgrades on the vehicles, the engine upgrades and issues like that, and then you definitely discover out that each crew is growing the automobile on the similar charge roughly and all the pieces stays the identical. We did rating factors in each single race, roughly, this 12 months. We miss in Monaco with a gearbox subject and in Canada with an engine subject however we had been within the factors additionally in these races and we wish to come again to that place right here.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Fernando, you’ve obtained two down and one to go in your pursuit for motorsport’s triple crown. So by way of successful the Indianapolis 500, how massive a precedence is that for you now? Do you wish to deal with it as quickly as doable – i.e. subsequent season? And may you try this whereas nonetheless racing in Formulation 1? 

FA: I didn’t suppose an excessive amount of but on this. As I stated final 12 months once I entered the Indy 500, that was a really engaging goal, to attain the triple crown and to be a little bit bit, let’s say, a extra full driver, not solely driving Formulation 1 vehicles. Yeah, clearly the Le Mans victory it places a little bit bit nearer that focus on, however I’ll suppose and I’ll see what I do subsequent 12 months.

Q: (Julien Billotte – AutoHebdo) Query for Pierre. Pierre, did you push for the Honda transfer with Purple Bull and do you suppose it improves, it boosts your probabilities to maneuver to the senior crew if Daniel Ricciardo does go away the crew?

PG: I didn’t push for it as a result of I’m not the one who takes the choice – however in fact they requested me for suggestions for the reason that starting of the 12 months concerning the engine. I’ve tried to provide them as exact as doable to assist them of their selections however I believe, sure, there have been a lot greater talks behind it. After which, yeah, about Daniel’s state of affairs, I believe it’s nonetheless fairly early within the season to speak about it, in fact. Everyone seems to be making hypothesis however in the mean time there’s nothing actually critical. After all, clearly, you recognize, in Formulation One, you wish to be preventing for the highest positions and that’s what I wish to be preventing for in my profession and clearly my goal as a Purple Bull driver is to be the Purple Bull seat as shortly as doable – however in the mean time I’m solely in my first season in Formulation One, so I simply attempt to give attention to my job. I do know that, if I do good races, alternatives will come up – and that’s the one factor I attempt to give attention to in the mean time. So, we’ll see what Daniel does, and… yeah… bit too early, I simply attempt to give attention to my performances and on myself to provide my greatest.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globoesporte.com) To Fernando. Fernando, you experiment to compete in a unique state of affairs to Formulation One at Le Mans. Right here you have got at the very least three groups in entrance of you and there you have got only one crew. Are you able to describe extra the feeling of being a driver of a crew that, until you have got some issues, you most likely win the race?

FA: Properly, I believe in Le Mans it was completely different as a result of the race is so exhausting and so demanding that no matter bundle you have got, it is advisable nonetheless struggle all through the race and it is advisable nonetheless ship the proper execution of the race. When it comes to driving, by way of mechanical failures, by way of pitstops, the entire crew has to work collectively and execute the race. We see in different classes, in LMP2 or GT, even the favorite ones, on the finish of the race it’s not so clear. It’s not predictable. The crew of our boss Zak Brown was third on the finish of the race and in qualifying it was 14th. So, that’s how exhausting Le Mans is, and the way unpredictable it’s. In Formulation One we’re undoubtedly lacking that. We’re all sitting right here and we all know that perhaps we may struggle for seventh in qualifying and for seventh within the race. That’s the largest drawback of Formulation One.

Q: (Joe van Burik – Autocar NL) Fernando, two inquiries to you: first, are you able to describe the sensation as you had been making up time on the sister Toyota throughout your night time stint at Le Mans? And secondly, do you’re feeling the win would have rather more worth if different main producers would nonetheless have competed in LMP1? 

FA: At night time, clearly you’re so targeted and concentrating on visitors and all the opposite stuff that you’re not completely conscious of the hole between the 2 vehicles so if you’re quicker or slower…  you’re simply making an attempt to place some laps collectively and a few clear stints with none errors. After I completed my fourth stint and I requested what the hole was, clearly we had lowered it by one minute and a half or one minute 45s and that was nice however in the course of the stint, to be trustworthy, I used to be not conscious of the tempo or something.
And the way it feels? It feels nice. Final 12 months there have been solely 4 vehicles, this 12 months there have been ten so I believe there was rather more opposition this 12 months. We had the one hybrid system with, I believe, 49 % extra environment friendly than some other automobile and it was an awesome problem. I put this victory in a better stage than some other victory in Le Mans.

Q: (Inaudible) Romain, you appear a lot older than Pierre and Esteban sitting subsequent to you… 
RG: Thanks

Q: (Inaudible) Sorry about that. Did you watch them arising the ranks and when was the primary time that, watching them racing, you considered them: wow, that child is basically spectacular and will make it to the highest?

RG: To be truthful, I didn’t watch a lot. I met Esteban as soon as on the Monaco Gold Kart Cup ages in the past after which I knew he was doing Formulation Renault however I didn’t get a lot time to look at intently. I do know Pierre went by way of the French Federation Academy but it surely’s very exhausting to know if a driver’s going to make it or not till they’re competing in Formulation Two, which I assume is without doubt one of the greatest preparations, in order that’s the place you may see whether or not they’re going to make it or not and that’s fairly straightforward to observe as a result of it’s the identical race weekends as we do.

Q: (Jerome Bourret – L’Equipe) From previous experiences you’ve had right here in different classes, and from the job you have got performed within the simulator, what’s your opinion of the structure of the monitor and what can we anticipate from the race, boring or an thrilling one? 

EO: You understand, there have been some adjustments in comparison with the previous so initially, the monitor has been resurfaced, in comparison with the earlier 12 months so we’ll see the way it performs with these tyres in apply. Second factor is the form of the corners have been redesigned in turns one and two and 5 and 15, to assist overtaking and likewise, I believe, it could actually solely assist, you recognize. It’s a wider entry to the nook, it’s a slower entry to show one however faster exit. All these issues can solely assist overtaking. We are going to see if it helps in apply; already we may have a greater concept however as a venue, I believe Paul Ricard can solely be the very best venue in France in the mean time to host the French Grand Prix.

PG: Yeah, comparable feedback actually. We raced it earlier than it has been resurfaced so we have to wait a bit in apply. There’s a query mark concerning the chicane, if it’s good or if they need to have left the straight. I believe ultimately we don’t have a lot expertise from it so we have to see the way it goes this 12 months. However there are a few overtaking spots. The one drawback remains to be the identical: it’s actually near observe different vehicles so I believe it’s a bit troublesome to foretell but when degradation is fairly excessive, for positive we all know it’s fairly exhausting on the tyres, we have to see the way it behaves with the Pirellis and it’ll make it fairly thrilling. I don’t wish to be pessimistic, I’m often actually optimistic about issues so I believe we must always wait and see on Sunday however hopefully it’s going to be an thrilling one.

Q: Fernando, am I proper in saying you examined right here earlier than however not raced? 

FA: No.

Q: Have you ever had time in a simulator to get an understanding of it? 

FA: I didn’t drive the simulator both so let’s see tomorrow. I believe I’ve been right here in 2003 on the launch of the R23, the Renault one however we had been utilizing a brief kart circuit, only for some photos and a few shakedown however I actually don’t bear in mind something and let’s see, the great factor is that the French Grand Prix is coming again to the calendar and doubtless all the joy is there, you recognize, with the followers and the expectations and the race itself. I believe that’s the very optimistic information of the weekend. If the present shall be good or not, we’ll wait and see on Sunday. Generally it’s higher than anticipated, typically it’s a little bit a bit extra boring than anticipated however I believe I’m additionally optimistic as a result of it’s an historic race coming to the calendar and we’re all pleased.

RG: I’m just about the identical. I believe we at all times prefer to suppose forward of issues and never let time inform us what’s occurring. First race of the season was very boring however the subsequent few had been wonderful and there was a giant disaster after Australia and truly the races afterwards had been fairly enjoyable so right here we’ll see. On paper, it’s clearly not the simplest monitor on the planet on which to overhaul however there are lengthy DRS sections. If the tyre power is excessive, so the tyres may go off and if that’s the case overtaking goes to grow to be an possibility. I believe lately the one cease races have been a bit boring for everybody, so hopefully we’ll get a bit extra stops after which the race is at all times going to be a bit extra thrilling.

Q: (Rodrigo Franca – VIP Journal) Fernando, you gained in Monaco, you gained in Le Mans and also you additionally raced on the Indy 500. From a driver’s perspective, which one is essentially the most troublesome to win and for those who can please evaluate a number of the challenges between these three very completely different races? 

FA: I believe they’re troublesome to check. They’re all particular occasions and they’re all troublesome to win, in a manner. In all probability the simplest shall be Monaco as a result of if you’re in the very best bundle doable that season and you place in a lap on Saturday, 99 % of the win is there in order that’s most likely out of your arms. You most likely should have the very best automobile that weekend. Alternatively, I believe the present is larger as a result of they do it every year so I believe the driving force presentation, the build-up to the weekend, the race itself, all the pieces is larger as a result of, as I stated, they do it every year. The drivers parade is on the town, Indianapolis, Le Mans, there are quite a lot of preparations into the race so you’re feeling a unique ambiance however from a drivers’ perspective, as I stated, all of them really feel very particular, very distinctive and each requires completely different types.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Fernando, are you shocked Purple Bull can consider a World title utilizing Honda engines? 

FA: Me? If I’m shocked? No. To be trustworthy, what the opposite groups do, I believe it’s troublesome to analyse from the skin. We don’t have all the info, all of the issues they’ve so I’m pleased for them in the event that they take this choice, and pleased for Honda to point out their dedication to F1 and for the longer term and on the similar time, it’s not a shock. There have been some talks, some rumours for a few months already about this relationship and now it’s official.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Fernando, would you significantly take into account racing in IndyCar for a full season subsequent 12 months, and would you take into account taking a sabbatical maybe till McLaren present any indicators of enchancment? 

FA: Properly, I believe one factor is we have to wait and see a few months now’s actually the dedication of all of the events into F1 initiatives, into the longer term, what would be the seats that subsequent 12 months they transfer on and which shall be driver line-ups in a number of the high groups as properly. And after that, simply see what the longer term brings, additionally what the produce on the Indy 500, on the triple crown and no matter feels engaging. Proper now, as I stated, nonetheless digesting a little bit bit the Le Mans win and making an attempt to take pleasure in each minute and never taking an excessive amount of into consideration the following 12 months’s venture.

Q: (Ludovic Ferro – La Provence) One for Fernando, one for Esteban. Fernando, is it particular to drive in France after your victory in Le Mans and your two titles with Renault? 

FA: I at all times really feel pleased to race in France as a result of, as I stated earlier than, it’s an historic race within the calendar and I grew up watching the French Grand Prix on tv after which I went to an F1 race in Magny Cours and as you stated, racing for a French crew, and now successful Le Mans in France. The final 4 weeks, between the Le Mans take a look at, Montreal, Le Mans and right here is 4 weeks French talking folks within the lodges so it’s a pleasant feeling now and yeah, actually pleased to be again right here and quite a lot of help in France at all times and pleased to race (right here).

Q: (Ludovic Ferro – La Provence) Esteban, have you ever the ambition to complete first French driver of this GP and if not, what’s your ambition for this weekend? 

EO: There is no such thing as a classification about high French, so it’s not very attention-grabbing to be the highest French. No, what we wish to do it to do the very best job we will. Ultimately, that’s to reach seventh if there’s nothing taking place in entrance, in order that’s what we’ll go for this weekend. 

Q: (Jon McEvoy – Every day Mail) Fernando, how good do you suppose the Honda engines are? 

FA: I don’t know. What I do know is that the Renault engine we now have in our automobile is sort of good. Final 12 months, at this level, we had zero factors and this 12 months we’re seventh within the drivers’ championship and fifth within the constructors’ championship and the connection is best and more healthy than ever. That’s the one factor I do know, the current. The previous, I don’t know.

Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) How did you deal with the 24 hour race, are you continue to drained, did you handle to sleep a very long time and the way do you’re feeling now? 

FA: I’m roughly OK now, 90 %, nonetheless recovering. Undoubtedly it was demanding, bodily. Each time you bounce within the automobile you do two and a half Formulation One Grands Prix and then you definitely don’t have two weeks to get better, you have got 4 hours to get better and then you definitely return to the automobile so it was demanding but it surely was enjoyable on the similar time and the adrenaline retains you awake. Principally, all night time, I believe I slept one hour and a half, roughly, half asleep as a result of I used to be controlling the occasions throughout the night time. Yeah, it was a pleasant expertise and clearly I did the Daytona 24 hours in January, additionally to get expertise and apply on how 24 hour races had been by way of bodily calls for and psychological calls for as properly and yeah, all the pieces was underneath management.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) For all of you, are you able to inform me one thing concerning the affect of the triple header, I may even say 5 Grands Prix in six weeks? Is it overkill or do you prefer it? 

RG: I believe I prefer it.

EO: Yeah, it’s good. After I was a child I wished to race on daily basis so now it’s coming alive, that dream. I believe then again, I’m serious about the mechanics, all of the folks travelling round Europe, the truckies, all people within the groups, you recognize, build up these stunning hospitalities and tents and all that. That is going to be very exhausting for them so we have to make life as straightforward for them as we will as a result of on the finish, we’re a crew so we have to help all people.

PG: Yeah, I believe I’m going to like it. We’re race automobile drivers and we simply wish to race and I believe it’s going to superior.

FA: I’ve 9 so these final three’s OK.