Australian GP: Thursday press convention

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PRESS CONFERENCE

We’re gathered underneath very unhappy circumstances, following the information that Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Director of Components One died throughout the early hours of this morning. I’d like to start out this press convention by asking every of the drivers current for his or her ideas and recollections of Charlie. Lewis, may we begin with you, please?

Lewis HAMILTON: I’ve recognized Charlie since I began in 2007. I made some feedback this morning on my Instagram. It could haven’t labored, as I feel it’s down however clearly extremely shocked this morning to listen to the unhappy information and my ideas and prayers are with him and his household. What he did for this sport, I imply, his dedication… he actually was a pillar, as Toto stated, such an iconic determine within the sporting world and he contributed a lot for us, so could he relaxation in peace.

Q: Sebastian?

Sebastian VETTEL: Properly I assume I used to be as shocked as all of us are nonetheless now, after I head the information this morning, particularly as a result of I spoke to him yesterday and walked the observe for the primary couple of corners along with him. Troublesome to understand when anyone is simply not there anymore. So as to add to what Lewis stated. I’ve recognized him for a very long time and he’s kind of been our man, the driving force’s man. Clearly there are laws and all that after which there may be us and he was the intermediary. He was somebody you could possibly ask something of, anytime. He was open to everybody at any time. His door was all the time open. He was a racer. He was only a very good man. Shocked. I don’t assume there’s that a lot so as to add. I feel all our ideas, the entire paddock, the entire circus, the entire household of Components One; all our ideas are with him and particularly together with his household in these tough circumstances.

Q: And Robert?

Robert KUBICA: Properly, as Seb says, and Lewis, it’s a tough second. I noticed Sebastian strolling with Charlie yesterday and I believed I’d not interrupt them as a result of I’d see him on Friday on the Drivers’ Briefing. Sadly this won’t be the case. It’s very unhappy. He was sort of an icon of Components One. He was, as Sebastian stated, a racer, but in addition maintaining every little thing within the laws. He was actually the sort of an individual you could possibly all the time belief and commit. A really unhappy second. My ideas are together with his household, however that’s how it’s sadly.

Q: And Max, please?

Max Verstappen: I feel as everyone stated, I feel it was an enormous shock, additionally as a result of I spent the day with him in Geneva a number of weeks in the past and we had a superb chat, nearly a whole lot of issues. After I left on the time, I used to be like “see you in Australia for one more season of racing” and while you hear this information it‘s simply unbelievable – simply 66 years outdated. I assume we simply have to understand daily and each morning you get up and that you just take pleasure in life, and that it’s not solely about Components One however there are a whole lot of different issues in life and this is only one a part of it. And yeah, I feel for the time being what’s most necessary is that the ideas are going to his household and good friend and shut ones.

Q: And Daniel?

Daniel RICCIARDO: I echo every little thing. Not the nicest information to stroll into. Stunned by it, for certain. I’ll attempt to make it barely extra optimistic. As Seb stated, he was there for us, and we gave him a tough time. We’d actually press him and push him and make him work, however he was all the time actually receptive and also you all the time felt like he was on our facet. I assume we have been like a damaged file with a whole lot of the issues we’d complain about however he by no means actually shut it down. He was all the time ears open. I feel he did rather a lot for the game. We’ll have some very good and optimistic recollections of him. I keep in mind my first Aussie GP, in 2012, going up. I keep in mind we have been with Franz and he goes “go and introduce your self to Charlie; it’s the beginning of a brand new season” and begin the connection on a excellent news. Time goes quick, however as Max touched on, it’s necessary simply to understand it, every second. You do take it without any consideration. I’m certain we’ll all race with a whole lot of ardour this weekend and it’s only a reminder as nicely that we’re all very fortunate to be on this place.

Q: Thanks all 5 of you. A pair extra questions now to every of you, and Daniel, we’ll stick with you. Your own home race, it’s all the time a busy build-up however how have the previous couple of days been for you?

DR: Busy! But it surely’s alright; I’m really used to it now. It’s anticipated. However, you already know, busy is sweet; it means folks automobile and that they’re excited in regards to the begin of the season. Loads of issues have modified. I’ve modified crew and that’s created a whole lot of different change throughout the F1 paddock and different drivers transferring groups. It’s been a reasonably cool and fairly busy low season for certain. Executed some actions – drove a V8 Supercar yesterday; Max was saying he was a passenger in the present day in a single, so simply chatting a little bit bit about that. It’s enjoyable. It’s enjoyable when you may stability a number of the not so enjoyable media commitments with a little bit little bit of enjoyment. However now we’re getting shut. We’re inside 24 hours of driving the automobile, so excited to get on observe, but in addition excited to see the pecking order. I feel we may draw some conclusions from testing however not a lot, so we’ll see the place we stands.

Q: I used to be going to ask you in regards to the conclusions from testing. How shut are Renault to the highest three groups now?

DR: Undecided… Undecided, so we’ll see how we go. The second week, the final couple of days, we had a number of new elements on the automobile they usually appear extra promising for our growth, in order that was encouraging. I feel we left the check extra inspired. We’ll see. Judging the highest three automobiles, I don’t even know the place they stand for the time being, however yeah, a number of extra days and also you’ll know.

Q: Thanks, Daniel. Robert, coming to you: it’s your first race since 2010, are you able to describe your feelings heading into this weekend?

RK: Yeah, it has been a very long time, a very long time away from the game. Feelings… to be trustworthy there may be not likely a whole lot of time to consider them, you’re centered on the job, centered on the issues to do. Attempt to study as a lot as you may about new F1. Issues have modified rather a lot since I used to be racing right here final time. Simply making an attempt to arrange; making an attempt to be prepared. We didn’t have a the right begin to winter testing, so there are a whole lot of issues to be checked, to see how they are going to be and yeah, let’s see.

Q: As you stated, it was a tough interval for the crew in winter testing – the automobile arrived late in Barcelona. What’s a sensible aim for you and the crew?

RK: Sadly we have been late for the winter testing and it’s not such as you get better this delay in a single week, so there are nonetheless issues being sorted out. The blokes are pushing actually exhausting, particularly on observe but in addition in manufacturing unit. It’s a tough interval however we’ve to ensure we’re doing every little thing we are able to within the present scenario. We can’t change it, so we’ve to make we focus on what we’ve. There isn’t a level in losing power or time after which considering of a tough job. We simply have to do our job and that is the method of every member of the crew we’re having. Now we have to ensure we maximize our alternatives from what we’ve.

Q: Max, coming to you, the administration at Pink Bull Racing has been very bullish in regards to the new package deal, what are your ideas?

MV: I assume we’ll discover out, received’t we? I feel to date, we had a superb winter check, not too many points, and I used to be simply very completely happy about how everyone was working collectively, which I feel is essential, and a superb begin. In fact, integrating the brand new engine into the chassis nevertheless it didn’t look like it was giving us issues, so very completely happy about that. I may do most of my working, in order that was very optimistic however by way of efficiency, I feel it’s a bit tough to guage for the time being the place we precisely are. I didn’t have any time to do efficiency runs, or no matter however yeah, we’re proud of what we did. In fact, I feel it will probably all the time be higher, I feel everyone has that ideas. I assume right here – however not solely right here in Melbourne – we’ll discover out all through the start of the season the place we are going to stand.

Q: What’s the ambiance like within the crew for the time being, with the brand new partnership with Honda. Do you’re feeling it’s a bit extra bullish that it was within the latest previous?

MV: I feel everyone’s simply very motivated, very optimistic and really centered on the job as nicely.

Q: Sebastian, coming to you, quickest in winter testing. Do you’re feeling you’re in a greater place now than you have been presently final yr?

SV: Yeah. Fairly frankly as a result of I feel final yr’s winter testing didn’t go nicely for us and we really had some points with the automobile to repair and clearly we obtained a bit fortunate throughout the race weekend with the protection automobile to seize the win – however yeah, I feel on this regard we’re extra ready. Our automobile appears to work tremendous: no issues at this stage. Having stated that, clearly we are able to’t do higher than final yr’s consequence. So, it’s a tricky weekend forward of us. All the time the beginning, you’re a bit nervous, you don’t know precisely the place you’re. You don’t know what’s going to occur however yeah, I feel we’re… y’know… the spirit is sweet, the ambiance is sweet, we’re completely happy to be right here and begin racing.

Q: And only a fast phrase on the technical regulation modifications which have occurred over the winter. Do you’re feeling that it’ll be attainable to comply with one other automobile nearer this yr than final yr?

SV: Properly, testing isn’t about following different automobiles and overtaking. So I didn’t get a lot of that – nevertheless it didn’t appear to make a distinction. Hopefully it seems to be higher and simpler this yr. We’ll see. Clearly the DRS is a bit completely different. It’s a bit greater delta – so let’s see. I didn’t have that a lot expertise in testing to make a full conclusion.

Q: Lewis, tough to learn Mercedes’ testing kind. What’s your tackle it?

LH: I don’t assume there’s a lot to… it’s not tough to learn it. I feel it was fairly clear, nevertheless it’s tough to know what everybody’s doing, so naturally we received’t absolutely know till we get out within the automobile tomorrow and, come qualifying you get a greater image, and normally, over the primary few races is while you actually begin to get an thought of the place everybody stands – however we stated that we’ve work to do and we weren’t speaking BS. Now we have work to do.

Q: From an inner viewpoint, how necessary has continuity been – each stability on the driving entrance and the technical entrance?

LH: On the driving entrance, continuity is what works. Now we have a fantastic pairing and I feel the contribution Valtteri and I collectively, it’s labored nicely for years and there’s no motive to alter it. If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it. When it comes to the crew, we’ve obtained so many unimaginable folks throughout the crew, and the power… it’s inspiring to see so many individuals so pumped, pulling collectively. The communication is healthier than ever. Simply after the check I went again, and Toto rallied the troops and all of us sat collectively and it’s actually spectacular to see so many individuals so enthusiastic about their jobs and so enthusiastic about racing and desirous to do a greater job and all the time wanting to enhance. And figuring out the place they will enhance – it’s actually, actually cool to see. Actually encouraging. I simply know they’re the troopers. They’re the actual, true fighters throughout the crew, and I do know they’re going to be giving completely every little thing to make it possible for we proceed to progress.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Lewis, you talked about the necessity to enhance after testing. Valtteri stated he’s already seen enhancements from you guys. Do you share that confidence, do you assume that they’ve already discovered positive factors? And for Seb, you talked about being extra ready this yr. Does it really feel completely different coming right here, arguably because the hunted quite than the hunter?

LH: Properly, naturally after a check, you all the time enhance the subsequent day because the automobile will get older and older all through the check. It wears and then you definately go away, you analyse the place you’ve been. New info will get put within the wind tunnel, the engineers have new info they usually work upon it. So, everybody takes a step after testing. The automobile can be more energizing right here, we’ll have a a lot better understanding of it – however I feel it’s the identical for everybody. We didn’t convey upgrades. Will probably be fascinating to see how the Pink Bull improve works, and I do know another folks, Ferrari normally convey an improve for the primary race, so it’ll be fascinating to see.

SV: Properly, at this level, I feel we’re all hunters and all hunted. Now we have zero factors. At this level I don’t really feel like both. However hopefully going away from right here we’ll be within the place of the hunted. That’s the goal.

Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Sebastian. Your crew boss has stated that, specifically conditions, you’ll be favoured. What do these explicit conditions imply? In what manner will you be favoured at the beginning of the season?

SV: I don’t assume there’s a lot level in going into sure conditions. I feel it’s very clear, and I feel Mattia additionally made it very clear, we’re free to race, free to race one another. I feel Charles will do his greatest to assist himself  and assist the crew and that’s the identical for me. I’ll do my greatest to assist myself and to assist the crew. So, ultimately we’re racing for Ferrari and meaning we attempt to get Ferrari again to the place we’ve been making an attempt to get it again to for the final couple of years. That’s the primary precedence and the remainder, it’s an extended, lengthy season and I feel it’s a bit pointless at this level to start out mentioning sure eventualities.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Motion / Pace Sport) If I may ask all your briefly, what do you consider the brand new rule of a degree for quickest lap?

MV: I don’t know. I feel it may be good however it will probably additionally work in opposition to you possibly while you’re preventing for a title – however I assume time will inform the way it’s all going to work out – however for certain you may play a bit with it, as a crew.

LH: It’s 21 further factors, so I feel it’ll be fascinating to see how folks attempt to get these factors, so it must be fascinating.

DR: Yeah. At first, after I simply heard, I believed it was the entire… it’s good that they’ve restricted it to the highest ten. So that you do have one thing probably to lose should you go in to pit for a recent set of tyres to get the quickest lap. Yeah, we’ll see. Haven’t actually thought that a lot about it. See the way it performs out. I don’t assume it can determine a championship – may do, however I don’t assume it can.

SV: I don’t know. I don’t anticipate a lot change. We’ll see after a few races if there may be really a change.

RK: I feel sadly it doesn’t have an effect on us rather a lot. At the very least for now. However yeah, further level. It may unlock some unusual eventualities on the finish of the race with some automobiles pitting and it’ll open up. We’ll see three, 4 automobiles immediately coming in. It can rely. Will probably be a sort of domino. However as I stated, I used to be not likely about it.

Q: (Alessandro Sala – tercerequipo.com) Speaking in regards to the hunter equation for Mr Crocodile Daniel. 1980, Alan Jones, the final Aussie to win in Australia. After 40 years, it’s time to attempt, with the permission of a number of the different guys, to win. We hope to see a superb dive within the Albert Park lake. Do you?

DR: With myself, not with my automobile proper? I would want some assist from some others, most likely, this early within the season – however yeah, there’s an opportunity of some overtakes. I feel early on there received’t be too many entrance row begins. So that they’ll actually be some automobiles in entrance. The win is perhaps optimistic in a number of days’ time however yeah, being the hunter, that’s nonetheless going to be a whole lot of enjoyable this yr. Attempt to preserve that up. Greater than ever with, I assume, most likely the midfield battles we’ll be in initially. That’ll be cool. Does that reply your query? I’ll attempt to win, after all.

They’re already sort of loopy, Australians however yeah, if we may pull that off, lock your doorways.

Q: (Joost Nederpelt – NU.NL) Max, you stated some issues may have been higher. What may have been higher?

MV: Some issues. I can’t go into element, can I? No, I can’t.

SV: In any other case what? Daniel comes after you together with his knife!

Q: (Giles Richards – Guardian) Lewis and Sebastian, how necessary to every of you is it to stamp your authority for the championship early on this season, in these opening 4 races?

LH: It’s an extended season, so I don’t significantly really feel it’s crucial factor. I feel it’s actually about ending races and analysing and ensuring you’re getting as many factors as you may, after all, however I’m not likely one for needing to stamp authority.

SV: Yeah, just about the identical. I don’t assume we are going to win it right here, I don’t assume we are going to lose it right here. It’s a great distance. Hopefully we’ve a robust package deal, a robust crew that carries us right into a place on the finish of the yr to combat for it.

Q: (Stylianos Alepidis – F1fan.gr) Sebastian, the final couple of championships you didn’t attain your goal. You had the load in your shoulders from the Italian media in regards to the expectations of the tifosi. Now underneath the brand new management of Mr Binotto, do you assume that with the brand new perspective of the communications division in the direction of the media that the extra intense later phases of the championship will pan out by some means in another way?

SV: I’m unsure the media goes to make an enormous distinction until you may by some means switch factors to my account. I feel it’s a brand new yr, clearly (there have been) some modifications. In fact we can be centered making an attempt to do our job pretty much as good as we are able to. I feel there’s a whole lot of ardour inside this crew that’s prepared to get out and expressing ourselves, I feel, by means of successful, is one of the best we are able to accomplish that that’s the goal however as I stated, there’s so many races, such a great distance, so many issues we’re relying on however as a lot as we are able to management issues we attempt to take them in our hand and get our job completed. As I stated, to date the ambiance is sweet, the spirit is true contained in the crew and yeah, we attempt to carry that into the season. When it comes to expectations, I feel it’s regular while you completed second the yr earlier than that the best way to have a look at it’s that it’s a catastrophe since you completed second so in that manner, ending second, third or fourth is all the identical catastrophe. The winner takes all of it, so in that case Lewis has been in that place the final years and we attempt to flip it round.

Q: (Rene Oudman – Racing Information 365) The primary Grand Prix of the season means the top of the winter break, a time through which you might have extra spare time. What was the nicest, funniest or weirdest factor you’ve completed within the winter of 2018/2019?

RK: Difficult.

SV: You had an extended winter break although.

RK: Yeah, I did have a bit longer than the others. Really this winter was fairly busy so… I feel beginning working with the crew, figuring out that you’ll be a race driver undoubtedly makes an enormous distinction to the previous seven winters. The nicest one, most likely, was every week of biking, which was good, combining a little bit of interest coaching with pleasure.

SV: I don’t know. I assume simply spending time at house, making my very own breakfast which I fairly take pleasure in. Yeah, fairly boring possibly however I loved it. Went snowboarding a few instances, the climate was good, the snow was good.

DR: Related, simply being house and it’s summer season for me so… yeah, Australia. Really what was very nice as nicely was I didn’t go to an airport for six weeks and that was… I feel that was the longest in ten years that I’ve been off a airplane, in order that was really actually nice. I loved being open air. I obtained the bikes and mountains bikes. I really feel like doing issues that transfer quick, simply that kind of stuff, hanging out with buddies, possibly snapping the neck off a few beers however that’s about it. Makes extra sense while you drink it… However yeah, simply actually switching off particularly after final yr, that was necessary for me to wind down.

Can I simply lighten issues up as nicely? Robert talked about that he’s had a reasonably lengthy winter break. I don’t assume everyone knows to the extent of what he’s been by means of to get again right here, so I simply assume it’s superior to see him again. I’ve recognized him from after I moved to Europe again in 2007 which seems like a very long time however yeah, only a testomony to his character and I received’t ask for everybody to applaud however I actually assume it’s superior for him to be right here. We are able to applaud, yeah.

LH: I don’t actually keep in mind a whole lot of it. I imply the winter break completed fairly some time in the past, since we obtained… February, when you’re again within the manufacturing unit and dealing with the crew, centered on ensuring that you just’re match and prepared for the primary race ended some time in the past so it seems like an extended very long time in the past however there’s skydiving. Executed some browsing. I needed to do it right here however I couldn’t discover a netted space to go to. I simply can’t go the place there are sharks, man, and each Australian I meet they’re like ‘nah, nah, you’ll be alright. If a shark comes as much as you, punch it within the face.’ Australians are actually sort of loopy, huh?

DR: I’d prefer to say I’d do the identical however no, they scare me too.

LH: However yeah, in any other case just about the identical as everybody else. The break is a very valuable time you get to spend with household and buddies and it’s the time you don’t get to consider racing after which as soon as the season begins you’re on tour the entire yr and also you by no means actually lose sight of your targets.

MV: I assume I like mid- to end-of December is a little bit of break day and you may spend time with household and buddies however from like January onwards it’s simply coaching so I don’t really feel prefer it’s a break any extra since you’re simply busy. Some extra thrilling issues occurred, some much less thrilling issues occurred however ought to I share them? I don’t assume so.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy – The Occasions) Lewis, as has been talked about, Ferrari have stated they may favour Sebastian at sure instances. Have there been any comparable conversations at Mercedes or are you guys simply free to race?

LH: We’re free to race like each single yr in order that was even stated in the beginning of… again on the manufacturing unit and it’s repeated in the present day and that’s how I prefer it. It means we each have a good shot nevertheless it’s been the identical each single yr and it’s solely to a degree the place one driver doesn’t have the prospect to win the champion any extra if we’re fortunate sufficient to be in that place and issues shift however usually we’re all the time free to race so I feel that’s nice.