DRIVER GROUP 1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Pierre GASLY (AlphaTauri), Alex ALBON (Williams), Sergio PÉREZ (Red Bull), Lance STROLL (Aston Martin)
Q: Lewis, you’re up first of all. How’s Miami been so far for you?
Lewis HAMILTON: It’s been great. The weather is incredible. And we’ve had such a warm welcome here. So just been happy to be out here and, yeah, been out on the water. Great training. And yeah, the ambience in the town is incredible.
Q: …bit of golf as well.
LH: I did something with Tom [Brady]. Yeah, but I’m not really very good!
Q: Lewis, let’s quickly talk from a performance point of view, what can we expect from you and Mercedes this weekend?
LH: You can expect that we’ll begin giving it our all, and trying our best. There’s been a huge amount of work going on in the background. Everyone working as hard as they can; you can see we got to a new rear wing, for example. So, I’m just grateful for everyone continue to keep their heads down. And for the amazing, hard work that everyone is putting in.
Q: Do you think you’ll be closer to the pace?
LH: I don’t anticipate much change in that sense.
Q: Pierre, coming to you now. Well, first up, how was dinner with Michael Jordan?
Pierre GASLY: Well, it was by far the best dinner I ever had really. Honestly, super, super inspiring. Really special evening, just to learn, you know, like the experience and to be able to hear from such a successful guy. I don’t think there was anyone else that inspired me more since I was a kid. And yeah, I mean, it was very, very special.
Q: You even managed to get him to try your helmet on?
PG: Yeah, I did. He did. Yeah, we exchanged. So, I gave him one of one of my helmets and gave me a pair of Jordans. So that was pretty cool. But no, mainly just to hear his experience, his career, the mentality, the leadership that he has. Even at his age, he’s so competitive and it was just an amazing, amazing evening.
Q: Let’s talk on track quickly. Slightly disappointing race for you last time out in Imola. Although you did have a good battle with the man on your right, Lewis Hamilton. Where is the pace of the AlphaTauri at the minute, relative to the opposition?
PG: Well, we’re still trying to figure out, obviously from track to track it changes. Imola, we got it wrong from qualifying onwards and we were involved in a crash in the sprint, started from the back and, as we saw, was impossible to overtake. So, clearly fighting with Lewis was not for the positions we like, but I think there is more than that. And now we’ll find out in Miami what we can do. But yeah, we can clearly fight for the top 10. I’m confident for that. And that’s what we will push for.
Q: Alex coming to you now. Tell us about your experiences in Miami so far this week.
Alex ALBON: I arrived pretty late. So I haven’t seen too much of the place but it’s been pretty good. It’s hot, very humid. And yeah, my girlfriend was competing maybe two hours away in Fort Myers, so I was out a little bit earlier, watching her play but that was that was about it.
Q: Quick trip to the hair salon by the looks of things…
AA: Yeah, it looks red on the on the camera there. Yeah, we got it dyed before Melbourne and we finished 10th and then as the dye faded away, we finished 11th In Imola. So it started to affect the performance! So, we re-dyed it, hoping for more points!
Q: Well, you finished 11th In Imola, but it was actually still have a great race by you. What can we expect this weekend from Williams?
AA: Yeah, it was a great race in Imola, and I think we’re fighting at the heels for points. It’s been two good races where we started out of position just with some issues or with a disqualification from Melbourne. So hopefully we can have a bit more of a smoother weekend this time around, especially for the qualifying, and we’ll see. It seems like a very tricky circuit. I do believe that being a new circuit, there’s a bit more opportunity in that. Hopefully we can hit the ground running and be ahead of a few others.
Q: Sergio, coming to you now. What chance of you making a full-time switch to the Miami Marlins baseball team?
Sergio PÉREZ: I don’t think so! I think I’ll stick with what I’m doing for now! There was not much talent!
Yeah, but was it fun? Just tell it tell us about the whole experience.
SP: It’s obviously a very nice experience, to be there with the players learning from another sport. There were a few fans there. So, it’s always nice to learn from other sports.
Q: It was another strong performance for you at Imola last time out. Do you see any reason why you and Red Bull can’t be the pace-setters this weekend?
SP: I think we were pretty confident we’re going to be in fight, but it obviously depends on many factors. I think none of us have been used to these track temperatures. We haven’t driven under these track temperatures that we are expecting. So, it will be interesting how the tires cope with it, and to see which team are able to adapt the best.
Q: Lance coming to you now. What’s been the highlight of your stay in Miami so far?
Lance STROLL: Oh, just you know, it’s great to be here, the sunshine. Yeah, it’s a fun city and I always enjoy coming to Miami. Yeah, I’ve got some friends around this week. Yeah, now it’s time to go racing. So really looking forward to it.
Q: What is the mood in the camp? Because it was a much better race for Aston Martin last time out. Is everyone very buoyed by what happened at Imola?
LS: It was great to get both cars in the points in Imola. I think it was a big boost for the team. We have to see how we go this weekend. I mean, we’re going to be, you know, pushing hard and coming up with some ideas, setting up the car and try to find some more pace and see how we go.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Jordan Bianchi – The Athletic) This is for all five drivers. Impressions of the track so far, during the track walk, and if you guys have done any sim work, and what you’ve taken away from that?
LS: Well, it looks fun, it looks challenging. It’s tight, a lot of walls, a combination of high-, low-speed corners with some long straights. So hopefully, we see some good racing. I think there’s some good overtaking opportunities, into 17, into the hairpin. I’m sure it’ll be fun to drive and be a good show on Sunday.
SP: I think it will be a nice track to drive. It will be interesting to see the grip level, the asphalt looks a bit different. Some places, it looks like it’s already opening up. But other than that, I think it’s going to be a great race. The circuit really has long straights, so for racing, should be a good a good circuit for racing. And yeah, we should give a good, fun race for the fans.
AA: It was a tricky one, I found. I felt like it was one of the… it took me one of the longest circuits to get up to speed, at least on the on the simulator. It seems very technical. And just doing the track walk yesterday, the kerbs seem to be different to what we’re used to. Sometimes there are no curbs at all. So, I think track limits are going to be a big topic this weekend. But I’m excited. I feel like it’s obviously a good track. And I think it favours the racing, especially. The racing should be good.
PG: Yeah, I think it’s going to be a cool track. Similar comments to the guys: very, very long straight, so I guess, good for overtaking, should be quite a lot of action on Sunday. And yeah, quite interesting. This very high-speeds first section, very tight second section, so they will be a compromise to find but all in all, I think they came up with a great track design.
LH: Yeah, not much more to add to these guys. It looks great.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) For you Lewis. The FIA seems to be continuing with its clampdown on jewellery. You said before that you’ll continue to wear it. I just wanted to know whether you’ll stand by that. And if it gets to a position where they say oh, you can’t race if you’re wearing the jewellery would you still race? And also, do you feel like you’re being singled out a bit by the FIA, given you’re the driver who probably wears probably the most jewellery on the grid?
LH: I definitely do wear… I couldn’t get any more jewellery on today. I mean, I don’t really have a lot more to add than what I already said the last time I was in front of you guys, and we spoke about it. It’s… I feel like it’s almost like a step backwards if you think of the steps we’re taking as a sport, and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on and really pushing. I think we made such great strides as a sport. Look, we’re here in Miami, this is such a small thing. I’ve been using… I’ve been in the sport 16 years, I’ve been wearing jewellery for 16 years, in the car only I only ever have my earrings on, and my nose ring, which I can’t even remove. So, it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat. And so, I’ll try to communicate and work with Mohammed. I think, you know, I’m here to be an ally of the sport, of Mohammad and Formula 1. And as I said, I think we’ve got bigger, bigger fish to fry, bigger things to do more impact to have. So, I think that’s really where the focus should be.
Q: (Chris Medland – Racer) For all the drivers. From next year, we’ll have three races in the US. Knowing the kind of home support you guys have enjoyed in your own home races, what do you think an American driver on the grid would do for the sport over here? And are you guys surprised that over the last 20 years, we maybe haven’t had more get close, or get on to the grid?
LH: It doesn’t really surprise me: I think it’s perhaps more a cultural thing. You know, here in the States. It’s the NFL, it’s NBA. It’s NASCAR, IndyCar. And I mean, in my 16 years of coming over here, it’s been such a slow build, trying to bring awareness of the sport. Unfortunately, the Americans have to wake up at odd times in order to watch a grand prix. But I think this new step that’s been taken, into bringing awareness, the Netflix show, has really just brought in that amazing fan base, a sport fan base that we have, that there is here in the US. And maybe now’s the time to start focusing on how we can include more people here, because it’s such a diverse country. I’m sure there’s some amazing drivers here somewhere, as they’ve got so many great sporting talents. So, it’d be a good mission for us to find the next one.
PG: I agree with what Lewis said. I think the culture is the main difference. Coming here four or five years ago, I remember all the fans knew about NASCAR, not many knew about Formula 1. I think to see the evolution, the exposure we got as a sport over the last two, three years, it’s been very impressive and now the fan base is just growing massively. And we can feel it, as drivers, when we see Austin last year: 450,000 people coming over the weekend was a very, very special and unique atmosphere. So now very excited to come back here more often with Miami, with Vegas. I’m sure with that exposure we’re getting now, more and more people are going to get into the sport and yeah, hopefully we will see more of them in the future.
AA: Yeah, I think same comments as the two of my right. I guess it’s Alexander Rossi was maybe the last one in Formula 1? It seems like, for now at least, a lot of the drivers who’ve got close have come towards the European side to learn how to race, in terms of Formula 3, Formula 2 and that side of things. I see it now with Logan [Sargeant] in the Williams young driver programme. He’s going that way as well. But it seems like right now, it’s a great catalyst for everything to start happening over here. And I’m sure once nce that level starts to help… I think there’s just going to be more people arriving, more younger kids interested in Formula 1, and that’s just going to help everything. And then the talent is going to come.
SP: Yeah, I think, in my case, for example, coming from this part of the world, it’s definitely harder for us because you have to go at a very young age to Europe, I think. Otherwise, it’s just harder, because you have to grow up with the best drivers in the world at a very young age, and just develop throughout. In the circuits, with the tires with the racing. I think they have a lot of talent over here. Hopefully soon we can have an American-based driver because it will be good for the sport. But it’s certainly quite hard to do that, because just by being on this side of the world.
LS: Yeah, it would be great to see an American driver in the sport. I think it would definitely expand the American audience. But, like Checo said, the ladder to Formula 1 is more simple when you race in Europe, come from Europe. If you’re over on the side of the world, we got to move over to Europe to compete in Formula 3 and all that that stuff, and it’s not so simple. But yeah, there’s definitely a lot of talent here, and be great to see an American driver in the future.
Q: (Jenna Fryer – Associated Press) For Lewis. You manifested this race back in 2017, I guess. You love the US. I’m wondering, has the atmosphere and the event lived up to what you manifested? And what do you think of that marina?
LH: It definitely is what I expected from Miami. Already, just going through the city, seeing events everywhere. The buzz… I was just in New York, and I would just remember just walking through the streets, and I heard someone talking about ‘hey, you going to Miami?’ and they didn’t know I was there. There’s just talk on the streets: this race, and the excitement. I’ve been to a couple of Super Bowls. This kind of feels like a similar vibe. And what a great place for us to have it, y’know, and around this incredible stadium. I think it’s gonna be an amazing spectacle. And also really cool for people across in Europe, and around the rest of the world to see just how great Miami is.
Q: And the Marina?
LH: It’s stunning! Like Monaco, not as many yachts I don’t think I’ve seen, but I was out there yesterday, just catching the sun and doing some jet surfing, which was pretty awesome. I saw some dolphins, which is nice.
Q: (Tom Cary – Daily Telegraph) Lewis, another one for you. Just to follow up on Phil’s question earlier. Sorry, apologies is going back to something that you’ve spoken about a lot. But if the FIA really insists on this issue with the jewellery, what is the solution? I mean, you say you can’t take it off. They say you have to: what was the end game here?
LH: I really don’t know. As I said, I can’t remove at least two of them. One, I can’t really explain where it is. And, what I can say is that it’s platinum that I have, so it’s not magnetic. It’s never been a safety issue in the past. I’ve had, in 16 years, so many MRI scans and not had to take out the platinum, for example, because it’s not been an issue. So yeah. I mean, if they stopped me, then so be it. We got a spare driver, so we’re ready and prepped for the weekend. There’s lots of doing the city anyway, so I’ll be good either way.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Another one for you, Lewis. You said this season is for your toughest since 2009, in terms of the car. Just wondering if you could tell us, in difficult times like these, could you share who you take inspiration from: people, friends, family, team members or people outside the sport: where you where you draw inspiration to carry on?
LH: I wouldn’t say there was one individual during this time that I I’m focused on. I think I look all around me, and I see I tried to ignore the negative that I see. I’m not really watching the news a lot, but there’s so many inspiring characters out there. And I think just continuously proving that you never give up, you keep pushing. And I love working with this team. Being in a team is such a privilege and working with so many people towards a common goal. And everyone lifted each other up. I’ve had amazing conversations with my team mates in this past week. Incredible how supportive everyone has been through the difficult times, and then we’ve had the most incredible times together. So, you know, a couple of bad races is not going to stop us in our tracks. This is where we unite: this is where we learn more about ourselves as individuals; this is where we, we grow the most. And it makes that eventual success – which I have no doubts we will eventually get to – taste even better.
Q: (Nathan Brown – USA Today) Lewis, at the start of your Formula 1 career, the US Grand Prix took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, from what we’ve seen, from Miami, what we expect to see at Vegas next year, do you feel like a track in a venue that was really built around the history rather than the spectacle of the event, would have a fit on the Formula 1 calendar down the road?
LH: Look I’m a bit old school. So of course, I love the history, particularly in certain circuits. But the older I get, the more I realise it’s about the people. We could go to the middle of nowhere that has very few people, not great accommodation, not great community and for us, as individuals, driving on a track that’s historic is cool – but it’s about the people. And the people really do make… we’ve experienced with pandemic, no one being in there and that’s just no atmosphere. It was like a test day. It was not enjoyable. And now we’re seeing hundreds of thousands of people turn up to the race, energised, excited, keen to learn more. And so, I think the fans are at the heart of what this sport is about, they create it. So for me, it’s, I think, being in cities where we can really engage in communities and actually also have an impact. When you go to those… I love Nürburgring, for example, but there’s not a diverse community there. We’re not actually impacting the place there. Here, we can do something. Yesterday, I met a bunch of kids from diverse backgrounds, who now want to get into engineering and STEM subjects and so, it’s way cooler for me.
Q: (David Wilson – Miami Herald) For Lewis, kind of following up on what you were just saying. Everyone’s saying Miami, but really we’re in Miami Gardens, which is the largest majority black city in Florida. Does that have any significance to you? To race in a city like this?
LH: It definitely does have a significance. I think just, as I said, just like in my 16 years… The first five or 10, maybe five years or so, I didn’t see many people of colour in the grandstands. When I was on stage, very, very few people of colour, you know, not as diverse as I’d hoped. And as I said, yesterday, I was standing on stage and I’m seeing I’m seeing the crowd as… it couldn’t be any more diverse. And that’s amazing for me, to not be the only one there, which is nice to see. And it’s just it’s just great to be seeing that we’re tapping into those different cultures, those different communities who perhaps once didn’t think it was for them because they didn’t see someone that looked like them in the sport, maybe. And I think that’s the super encouraging. And as I said, there’s more to do in terms of encouraging these young kids not only to be NFL players or basketball players but… education is key and STEM subjects can lead to so many different avenues. And you can be a racing driver, also. So it’s pretty neat.
Q: (Ian Parkes – New York Times) To the other for drivers, aside from Lewis, do you guys have any sympathy for Lewis’s position with regard to the piercings debate? Is he right? Are there bigger fish to fry? And just to conclude with yourself, Lewis, we’re assuming you’ve made your position clear to the FIA, regarding your piercings, and if so, what was their response? Thank you.
PG: I do understand. I do, I do believe there are bigger, bigger things to focus on. And I appreciate FIA are looking after our safety. That’s also their priority and our priority. My personal case, I have also religious item that I wear with me, when I’m racing, which are important to me, which I don’t feel comfortable not having was me driving the car. And I do feel it’s a little bit personal. We should have the freedom to do what feels right for us. At the end of the day, we have the responsibility to go out there put our life at risk. And I do feel it should be a personal choice, but I respect the FIA and their will to always improve the safety. But I’ll appreciate a talk with them, to see if we can find a better solution than such a strict decisions as they made. So we’ll see what we can do.
AA: I think Pierre sums it up well. There’s not really much to add to that. I still agree with Lewis’s comments, I understand. It’s our bodies at the same time as well. Like everything when you’re older, you’re prepared to have those consequences if, you want to do what you want to do, then so be it. You have a freedom for yourself. So yeah, that’s all.
SP: I fully agree with Pierre and Alex in this case is good, from the FIA point of view to look after our safety because at the end of the day, it’s for us. But as Lewis said, he’s been in this sport for so many years, and he’s been doing it, and he already has them with him, so it’s, it’s not like that easy to remove them. So I think it would be good to find a compromise, to work together with them. And, and yeah, just make sure that we are all in the same line and not against each other. And I think that will be the important thing.
LS: Nothing more to add, really. I think it’s great that the FIA is looking out for our safety but little things like a little piece of jewellery and stuff, I think it’s our own responsibility, as well to just accept the risk of something happening, wearing a bracelet or ring or whatever that might be. I get the big picture. But, I think there’s other things to focus on. Definitely bigger fish to fry,
Q: Lewis, anything you want to add about your discussions with the FIA?
LH: I’m willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them in that respect if I need to. But I think, Iike Pierre was just saying, it’s about individuality and being who you are. And I did try Mohammad for example this morning, but I’m sure he was super busy. But I sent him a message, just reassuring him that I want to be an ally, I don’t want to fight with you guys over this. This is very silly: let’s have great weekend. But I’ve not heard back yet. So, maybe he’s texted me. I don’t know. But I try and speak to him before the race.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Lewis after the race in Imola, Helmut Marko said, when you were lapped by Max, he said maybe Lewis thought he should have stopped last year. The day after, I think you put up a post on Instagram saying ‘I’m working on a masterpiece – it’s up to me when I’m finished’. When you hear comments like that from Helmut, does that motivate you even more just to fight back and get further up the order and back to the top of the game?
LH: I mean, I don’t listen to those silly comments to be honest. Ultimately, I mean, there’s a… it’s been interesting to see there’s quite a lot of disrespectful comments that I’ve seen over time, but it’s to be expected. And yeah, I just keep my head down. I know who I am. I know what I do. I love what I do. Going through a tough time. We didn’t come out of the starting blocks the way we wanted, but we’re fighters. And if you don’t know that about me, then you just don’t know me and that’s totally fine. I’ll doing my best to huddle up and group up with the team and fight as hard as we can.
DRIVER GROUP 2: Kevin MAGNUSSEN(Haas), Valterri BOTTAS (Alfa Romeo), Esteban OCON (Alpine), Yuki TSUNODA (Alpha Tauri), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
Q: Kevin, we’re going to start with you. Now you must have happy memories of being in Miami. Given that it was here that you got the good news earlier this season.
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: Yeah, it was, it was fun coming back here, you know. It’s not been that long since I was here, and wasn’t an F1 driver so this is where I got called up by Gunther and all of this happens, so it’s fun, it’s… yeah, I’m enjoying it.
Q: A different reception from the fans this time around?
KV: Yeah, definitely. It is different. You know, this is a Formula 1 event and there’s a lot of interest and, you know, attention on this, so it’s been great so far, and I think it’s going to be a fun weekend.
Q: Well, it was great at Imola last time out as well: another points finish for you. Just what can we expect from you, and the Haas team this weekend?
KV: Hopefully, more points, that’s what we want and that’s what we are expecting, I think. We should be able to be in that fight. It’s very, very tight in the midfield so you can easily be out and, you know, but likewise, it doesn’t take a big difference, then you’re in the points too. So it’s interesting and it’s a fun fight. So, yeah, hope to do that again.
Q: Valtteri coming to you now. You’ve been in the US for a while. How was San Diego?
Valterri BOTTAS: It was nice. I’d been a bit everywhere. I was in California for some time, then Utah and Arizona. And now I’m here.
Q: What’s been the highlight of the trip?
VB: I had a podium last Sunday on a bicycle, though, but first podium of the year. Hopefully I can continue that run.
Q: Well, talking of podiums Valtteri, what might you have been able to achieve at Imola had you not had that problem in the pit lane?
VB: It’s a good question. I don’t like thinking what if but yeah, the fact is that we still haven’t had a perfect race weekend. Either we’ve had issues in practice, qualifying or the race, and it is all about getting a perfect weekend. And I think that way we can be pretty close to the podium, obviously, depending on the track, but it is a great motivation and goal for us and what we’re really, really pushing for. We just need to keep making progress and trying to be perfect.
Q: Esteban, coming to you now. You stopped by Inter Miami earlier this week. Just tell us a little bit about what you got up to there?
Esteban OCON: Yeah, it was great fun, you know, I never really came in Miami, it’s the first time that I visit the place and yet the Inter Miami team of football, you know, they invited me to their facility. We had a good training session there. And yeah, it was awesome just to discover how things are done here and to see the interest that people have in Formula 1. It’s also extremely special.
Q: Were they impressed with your skill?
EO: Not really. I think I should stick to four wheels really. But I managed to juggle, to keepy-uppy a bit.
Q: Now let’s talk on track. Esteban, a great comeback drive by you at Imola to 11th on the road. With the new floor this weekend what sort of step forward can we expect?
EO: Yeah, we had obviously the issue in Imola with the gearbox in qualifying, which, you know, we’ve put things in place to fix that. We are going to have, obviously on my car, the new specification of updates and hopefully that’s going to give us a boost of performance. Definitely what we want to achieve here is score more points. Out of, you know, the four races, two times we’ve qualified top five so the car is capable of being fast. We just need to make it happen in the race as well.
Q: Now, you’ve actually been driving since the last race; you were testing with Pirelli at Imola. Can you tell us a little bit about the programme there and what progress you made?
EO: Yeah, so we were testing, you know, tires for next year, so always, you know, very good data, to see and we could also, you know, try a few different things, compared to the race weekend. It was a very fixed programme for Pirelli, but, you know, on my side experimenting was a good thing and, yeah, we come here with quite a lot of knowledge and good preparation, also in the simulator straight after, so there’s been a lot of work in the background and we’re ready to fight here.
Q: Yuki, you’ve been busy: New York City, swamp racing. What’s been the highlight of your time in the US so far?
Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, definitely swamp buggy with Max and also, yeah, I will say the boxing match as well. Also, there was my New York experience, that was a super insane fight. I enjoyed it so much. Also the atmosphere there in Madison Square was super amazing. The swamp buggy was super interesting, way more serious than I expected. They have big engines, more than 900 horsepower and I had a bit of a wheelie at the start., so lots of things that I never experienced. So yeah, I super enjoyed it.
Q: And on track, just throwing it back to Imola, you went from 12th to seventh, one of your best races in Formula 1 so far?
YT: Yeah, I would say, especially coming back from qualifying. We struggled a lot in the qualifying and we were able to gain positions, session by session, and in the end able to score points with P7, so I was happy. I will say my best race I had in Formula 1, but I think obviously we need to score points more, to be able to achieve our targets. But yeah, I think the performance I had in Imola was quite… really good, so I don’t have any, you know… there’s no reason that we cannot perform well, like we had in Imola, here as well.
Q: Max, thanks for waiting. Did you enjoy the swamp buggy as much as Yuki?
Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, it was really cool and they told us before we would get really wet, so I did everything I could to not get wet. And it was fun. Yeah, Yuki was flying, literally was flying. He really took off at the start. He was just floating over the water…
YT: Super light, I think yeah.
MV: He was wheelying a bit more than me. It was good. It was a nice.
Q: Now, Max you were the driver and the team to beat last time out. What can we expect from you guys here?
MV: Well, I think you always want to try and achieve a weekend like we had in Imola, but that’s not always the case, unfortunately. But let’s see what we can do here. I mean, of course, I think we have a good car and we can have a good result again, but on a new track a lot of things can go wrong or can go well, but it’s of course trying to find out what works for you. And it’s first trying to, you know, get up to speed with a new track and actually see the track conditions as well with the tarmac and just go from there. And of course try to do something similar as in Imola.
Q: What are your first impressions of the track here in Miami?
MV: Yeah, I think the fast corners are cool and the straights are very long. And then of course, we have this like little tight section of the track which is going to be interesting as well. So let’s see how it is to set up the car as well between the two kind of parts of the track.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) A question to Max, please about your teammate, Sergio Perez. We saw how closely he fought Lewis Hamilton at times last year, he’s been on pole this season, helped the team take the one-two last time out. How impressed have you been by how Sergio is performing this year? And is it any different or any better than 2021?
MV: Well, I think it helps, of course, to have a year with the team. And I think, of course, with the new rule changes everyone had to start from zero really. And that seems like he’s a lot happier in the car so that’s really good for the team and of course, we were extremely happy with our performance, you know, both of us in Imola so we can keep that up.
Q: (Stuart Codling – GP Racing) Max, as the defending World Champion how has that – if at all – affected the way you approach Grand Prix weekends now that you’re defending a World Championship, you want to win another one? Do you draw confidence from that? Does it enable you to bounce back from setbacks? Are you just kind of looking to step your game up to another level?
MV: I think naturally every year you want to try and be better, right? But you need a car for that as well. Luckily, we have a very competitive car. But from my side nothing really changes. I mean, you try to do the same like you want to be as consistent as you can be, try not to make mistakes and eventually of course try to get the best result possible every single weekend. And of course, you analyse every single race weekend and you try to be better again the weekend after but from my side, the feeling as well is pretty similar.
Q: (Jenna Fryer – Associated Press) Valtteri, much was made last race about you battling Russell at the end and people seem to think it was personal. Is that a personal battle when you are racing around him?
VB: No, it’s points, were chasing points and always, you know, just really trying to maximise every opportunity, every position you can make and obviously, it was a nice target for me in that race, because, you know, from me to the end of the race, there wasn’t really much action around me. So I was catching him like a few tenths a lap, and that just gets me pushing. And the target was more points rather than a person. So, you know, that’s how it goes.
Q: Valtteri, how much are you enjoying life at Alfa Romeo?
VB: I’m enjoying it a lot. You know, we started the season with the first race, you know, with points and what I’ve been really enjoying is the progress we’ve been able to make together as a team. So we’re definitely not falling back. And that is a motivation for us to go ahead rather than backwards. And yeah, I’m really, really enjoying the ride. And yeah, hopefully, it’s another good one this weekend.
Q: (Alejandro Cisternas – El Mercurio) Max, last year you were fighting for the championship with Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton. And this year, the Ferraris, particularly Charles Leclerc. How different do you feel are these battles and how different for you also is the approach as our reigning World Champion?
MV: I think in general it is just good for the sport that, you know, also, like a team, like Ferrari with a lot of history in the sport is back up front. I think it’s really nice to see that. And from my side, of course, I think I know Charles for a longer time, we really grew up through racing. And it’s been really good battles, I think we really enjoyed it and yeah, I’ve said it before, you know, I just hope that for the rest of the season, we can continue what we’ve been doing so far. And for me, winning a championship doesn’t really change that, you know, in terms of how I’m battling. I still want to, of course, win and I tried to be ahead, but you also need to be realistic at times, if that’s possible or not, when you go into a battle.
Q: (RJ O’Connell – racefans.net) Yuki, you’ve been on such an incredible upward trajectory since the second half of last season, obviously very close to a podium. Only three Japanese drivers have ever finished on Formula 1 podium. Do you feel like yours is just around the corner, potentially yours and Japan’s first Formula 1 victory?
YT: At the moment, I don’t know. I’m just really focusing on the situation I have now, to develop the car mainly. At the same time, just score points as much as possible. Of course, if I had any opportunity that I’m able to maybe get a podium, I will try to maximise that opportunity. And it will be of course, good to have podiums, but currently, I’m not really focusing to those things. I will say I tried to have podiums or whatever last year, in the first half season, and I was just expecting too high and suddenly I had lot of mistakes, and just always pushed a lot of corners. Currently I don’t try to think about those things. And I’m really enjoying the situation I’m having now, working as a team and scoring points as much as possible. But of course, if I win or a get a podium, that’d be great.
Q: (Jeff Clark – The Athletic) I’m wondering what the new track… obviously, you have simulation and stuff but how long does it take you to get fully comfortable, fully up to speed when you’re out there in practice?
KM: I don’t know, I mean you will continue to find lap time. But I mean, it doesn’t take that long to really get a pretty decent rhythm on the track. I haven’t driven the sim for this track. I haven’t had the opportunity so you know when it’s completely new, it’s nice to drive the sim just to get sort of an idea of the lines and breaking points, etc. But I don’t think it’s going to take too long.
Q: Esteban how many laps for you to get up to speed this afternoon?
EO: Hopefully not a lot, hopefully a couple of laps. Yeah, we’ve done the simulator, as I said. So yeah, hopefully one run and then we’re up to speed. But yeah, as Kevin said, you always find lap time, the more you drive anyway but yeah, to find my way around, I think that’s done already from the simulator. Now it’s just a few last details in reality and just getting the car up to speed as well.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) For all five: this is an amazing event here in Miami it’s a really great spectacle. We’ve got Vegas coming next year as well. Monaco has always been seen as the jewel in the F1 crown. Do you think as we get more of these sort of big money and sort of impressive events, is that going to risk taking that title away from Monaco, perhaps?
MV: I don’t think you can replace Monaco. Monaco has such a history of course it takes time to build that. And also, I mean, this is a completely different to Monaco, there’s a lot more space here and the whole atmosphere is different. Different kind of culture as well which is good that we have because it would be very boring to drive every time at the same culture. So yeah, you have to find a middle way between, you know, these kind of things, Monaco and of course, permanent race tracks.
YT: Yeah, exactly the same as Max.
EO: Yeah, I agree with Max, I think Monaco is extremely special. It has the history also behind it. And it’s one way, you know, to race that you don’t have anywhere else. You really need to qualify and the race is very difficult to overtake or you need to take a risk, you know, so for us it’s completely different. But yeah, coming in the States, seeing how we are welcome here, it’s great, it’s fantastic and we’ve seen how much the sport has grown. And yeah, Miami, Las Vegas, all these towns… it’s a dream, you know, for us to come here. So yeah, I can’t wait to discover what the US has left for us.
VB: I think Esteban said exactly what I was thinking as well. It’s so nice to come to these events and they’re amazing events. And yeah, in the future as well, the more the better I think, but Monaco is still always gonna be in Monaco and that’s because of the history and it’s a different place anyway.
KM: Nothing more to add. I love Monaco.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) Valtteri, one of the areas your team has invested quite heavily in over the past few years has been the driver and loop simulator? How does it compare to what you knew at Mercedes, not just in terms of driving sensation but its value as a set-up and development tool? And how much do you think you’ve been able to help accelerate that development of the simulator with the benchmarking you’ve been able to do compared to what you knew at Mercedes.
VB: Nowadays, of course, the simulators are hugely important with a lack of testing and as the technology improves, you can get more and more out of it. And the first time I tried the Alfa Sauber simulator, I could feel that there was quite a difference to the one at Mercedes because Mercedes started a long, long time ago and our team, we only started a few years ago. So of course there’s catching up to do but from the first time I tried it versus what it is now it’s already hugely improved and it has been already this year, especially the last couple of events, a really useful tool to kind of support the race weekend. So that’s always a driver at the factory during the race weekend doing also similar setup tests and doing the correlation and it’s been rapid progress on that and that keeps going and it is already really good tool. There are still improvements to be made and obviously I’ve given my part to it based on my experience and I’m sure it has helped as well and like, for example, this weekend it was really useful to get to know the track and actually try a few different set-ups or wing levels so you get a bit of an idea and before coming here.
Q: (Holly Kane – Gannett Newspapers/USA Today) Max this is for you, could you possibly expand a little bit about what it’s like racing with Leclerc up front like that and kind of your history and your friendship and knowing him so well and how the season is kind of shaping up obviously with the two of you very much out front most of the time?
MV: It’s nice and it just feels almost like you know back in the day like go karting. We just grew… personally, but also we just have more experience so I think in general that of course makes the racing even better. But it’s good to see that the young guys are now slowly all moving into the top teams and they’re all fighting for wins, I think. Of course this is a natural process but yeah, I really enjoy it. Also, you know, really a lot of drivers who are in Formula 1 at the moment, are the ones I used to race against in go karts. And I’m very, very happy that you know, everyone found their place in F1.
Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Max, you said after your win in Imola, that sometimes being on top of all the elements a team needs to be on a race weekend can be more important than adding new bits to the car. So I wondered, what is it that Red Bull needs to nail this weekend at a new circuit to make sure that you can try and replicate that result?
MV: Yeah, Imola specifically was a very hectic weekend with the sprint qualifying as well and then the changing conditions. So whatever you bring there with those difficult conditions, I think was more about just actually nailing a lap, making sure the tires were working and not making a mistake on the braking or whatever, you know, hitting a curb wrong or braking on the white line, that actually finding whatever the performance upgrade is. And I do think now, of course, we’ll go into the second weekend with that. It’s a new track. We don’t know the grip levels so… it’s a street circuit and again, it’s going to be about just trying to maximize the warm-up of the tires, the degradation but of course, every single bit on the car now, which gives you more lap time, will of course actually help a bit as long as the conditions are not going to be like Imola.
DRIVER GROUP 3 – Charles LECLERC (Ferrari), Daniel RICCIARDO (McLaren), Mick SCHUMACHER (Haas), Nicholas LATIFI (Williams), Fernando ALONSO (Alpine)
Q: Let’s go left to right, Charles, shall we start with you? Tell us a little bit about your week in Miami. I know you were at the Miami Marlins earlier, how’s your throwing arm?
Charles LECLERC: The throwing was really good. Catching was much more difficult. But yeah, it was it was fun. It was my first experience watching baseball and I loved it. But apart from that, a very busy week here in Miami. I didn’t have much time to go around. But yeah, really happy to be here and can’t wait to try the track today.
Q: Now, it was a frustrating end for you last time out at Imola. How quickly were you able to turn the page and move on after that race?
CL: Well, very quickly, obviously, it’s a mistake that cost some points. So instead of third, we finished sixth, which is never great and especially in the position we are in this year. So I just analyze what went wrong. And I was just too optimistic. So I just have to turn the page now and focus on the future.
Q: And how optimistic are you for this weekend?
CL: I mean, since the beginning of the season, we are always there, it’s always extremely close with Red Bull. I don’t know who will be on top this weekend. But for sure we’ll have a shot to win here if we do everything perfect. So I’ll just focus on ourselves and hopefully we can bring a win home.
Q: Best of luck with that. Thank you, Charles. Daniel, coming to you now. They say Miami looks great from the sea, you’ve been on the water this week. Is that true?
Daniel RICCIARDO: It looks great from the sea. And I have, yeah, so both are true. Both statements are accurate. It was beautiful out there.
Q: Tell us a little bit more about what you’ve been up to since you’ve been in the States?
DR: I’ve done a fair bit so yeah. It’s yeah, no secret I really do enjoy it out here. I enjoy the States so yeah. I was in New York for a little bit before arriving in Miami so that was that was fun. It’s also very different to Miami, so got the weekend there and then came out here and yeah we’re on some Seadoos out in the water which was cool. It’s funny the you get like a massive downpour of rain and then the sun and it’s you can like literally see the rain cloud just moving around, they are so localized, some of the storms or the downpours here. And but it was a really nice day. And then yeah, we’ve just been pretty busy with events. We’ve been doing some stuff with James Corden as well, which has been really funny. So yeah, it’s been it’s been full on and everyone’s getting involved. It’s really cool. And hopefully the racing and I guess the on track stuff is it really lives up. I’m looking forward to getting on track today. But yeah, everything is kind of just intense right now in in a really cool way.
Q: And from a performance point of view, where a McLaren at coming into this weekend?
DR: I think we’ve obviously been pretty good the last few weekends, at least, you know, fighting for proper points. So I think yeah, we’ll be alright. This circuit looks, I want to say it probably doesn’t compare to anything we’ve done, at least so far this year, so it’s hard to probably judge, you know, our level of competitiveness until we turn a lap. But it’s going to be fun. I think three DRS zones. It’s yeah, street track. So it’s cool.
Q: All right. Best of luck to you. Thank you very much. Mick, your turn. What have you been up to this week?
Mick SCHUMACHER: Yeah, I spent some time in Texas. So that was those cool. I got to drive on my track, we just built the track, so we went out on the side by sides and just had a good time really.
Q: And a bit of basketball. Did I see basketball? Have you been playing any basketball?
MS: No, that was that was early this year? If you referring to the Instagram post. That was early this year.
Q: You said you don’t have to be told to be tall to be a basketball player?
MS: I’m not very tall, right?
Q: The average height in the NBA was six foot five last season.
Q: Let’s talk on track, Mick. Imola didn’t deliver the result you wanted. But you showed good pace all weekend. What positives did you take from last time?
MS: Yeah, exactly. I think the pace showed that, you know, we were probably in the wrong position in terms of just overall classification and for what our pace was like. And I think that the mistake was the cost, or the contact or close call in the first lap, definitely cost us the position or the points that they were in at the time. But yeah, there’s a lot of positives, the speed is there and I’m sure that, you know, with a brand new track the advantages that some other teams might have might be a bit slimmer and help us out a bit more.
Q: Okay. Best of luck to you. Nicholas, tell us about Miami and what you’ve been up to?
Nicholas LATIFI: Yeah, so, I got out here Monday evening. And I mean, to be honest, yeah, just kind of doing some training and kind of acclimatising. Nothing too exciting for me so far yet. But I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time here in Miami over the years, probably outside of where I grew up in Toronto and where I live now in London, Miami is where I spent the most amount of time. It’s not too far from Toronto, only a three-hour flight so many, many family holiday spent here over the Christmas and New Year’s time. I probably did over 50% of my car racing here, not too far south from here in Homestead. So yeah, a lot of good memories here. And then a lot of training camps here as well, pre-season. So yeah, it feels very familiar to be back.
Q: Let’s talk on track. It hasn’t been an easy season for you, so far in 2022. Can you just give us a little resumé of how you feel things are going and what the issues are with the car if you feel there are issues with the car?
NL: Yeah, it’s been clear that the performance has not been where I wanted it to be. I think after Imola I explained quite a lot in detail just the issues with the kind of the feeling of confidence and trust in the car, which is obviously very important to have with these, and it just hasn’t been at the level it needs to be, for various reasons. So I think each time I drive the car, I’m making some progress in that area. But it’s just been tricky from the start. It’s clear as a team, we’re not where we want to be. We’re obviously lacking for sure some overall downforce, struggling with the balance as well. And yeah, I guess combined with some of the new characteristics of these cars compared to the previous years’ cars just yet not getting that feeling of gelling with the car the way the way you need to so yeah, that’s the reasons really.
Q: All right. Well, best of luck this weekend. Thank you, Nicholas. Fernando, coming to you. Nicholas has done a lot of karting here. Just tell us about your own experiences of Miami over the years?
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, you know, not much karting. But yeah, I raced in Daytona few times, and few tests as well. So not far from here. And yeah, I like the city as well, the weather. And yeah, let’s see this weekend. I think it’s a lot of excitement about this race and the whole city’s embracing the event. And we are here looking forward to go in the car and discover this new circuit.
Q: What are your first impressions of the circuit?
FA: Obviously, we drove the simulator. And it looks good. It looks fast. With these very long straights, three of them, with the DRS, and that should provide some good action on Sunday. Then it remains to be seen now when we drive the section between 10, 11 and 16, it looks very narrow and quite slow. And maybe that’s not, you know, so fun to drive with a Formula 1 car that normally we like the high-speed corners and to feel the downforce. So that probably the trickiest part of the circuit and let’s see.
Q: Fernando, you’ve been quick all year, but you only have two world championship points to show for your efforts. How tough is this period been for you?
FA: It has been. Obviously it feels a little bit strange to have two points in the championship after having probably my best start to the season in terms of competitiveness of the last 10 years, maybe from 2012. I was I was not as competitive as I felt in these first four races. So yeah, we’ve been, I think extremely unlucky with some of the events that happen. A very easy six in Saudi, obviously the problems in Melbourne with qualifying and then in the race, and then again, in lap one in Imola we were out of the race. So yeah, it’s a matter of time that the result will come. I feel strong. I feel fast now. The car also feels good, so I’m really looking forward to each weekend.
Q: Do you believe in luck?
FA: Of course. Yeah.
Q: Good and bad.
FA: Yeah, good and bad, but over 23 races it compensates. So I think I get rid of all of the bad luck already.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mandy Curry – Motorlat) My question is Fernando Alonso. New track here in Miami and new regulations, do you think this race weekend will present new opportunities or help level out the playing field amongst you and other drivers?
FA: Obviously, it is always a challenge for everyone when you come to a new circuit and you have to get the confidence immediately into the circuit. Street circuits always they don’t have any room to do mistakes, the walls are very close. So yeah, I think it’s a matter of, you know, each of us adapting as quick as we can. Also the these type of tracks when they are new, there is a huge track evolution. So every time you jump in the car, you improve a couple of seconds. So your confidence has to keep that progression as well. So it’s going to be a fun weekend. And we are all super happy to come here and see the excitement from the fans and from everyone. So I think it’s going to be a good weekend.
Q: (Jordan Bianchi – The Athletic) This is for any driver who’d like to answer it. It looks like there was some repair work done in Turn 17 overnight. I’m wondering if there’s any concern about that, with this being a new track about the track, you know, staying intact and not coming up?
CL: I’m not sure what the repairs are to be honest. So yeah, I cannot comment too much. Yesterday, I’ve been on track a little bit. The only thing that was a little bit strange is the tarmac. It feels like it’s something different to what we are used to driving on during the year. But yeah, in terms of repair, I don’t know what’s going on. I was not aware.
DR: Yeah, I did a couple of hot laps, Wednesday, I think it was, and yeah, a little bit like Charles said, it feels like different for sure to maybe at least the last few surfaces we’ve raced on over the last few races. But yeah, I mean, I hope it stays intact. I hope everything’s cool and obviously that we have a smooth fun weekend. But yeah, obviously time will tell. But obviously, for everyone’s sake hopefully everything stays intact. And it’s all good.
MS: I guess everybody’s answered already. But hopefully everything stays well, I think that the in terms of micro and macro roughness the track looks to be offset to most other tracks and therefore will be quite a bit different I guess to what we’ve had up to this year.
Q: (Jeff Clark – The Athletic) For Charles. How does your mentality change when you come into a race weekend as the points leader or does it change?
CL: No, it doesn’t. I mean, obviously, I feel better compared to last year where we were fighting for less exciting positions. So to know that whenever you go to race weekend, you’ve got the opportunity to win puts a big fat smile on my face. But yeah, on the other hand, the approach doesn’t change. I think we just need to keep working like we did in the last four races. We’ve worked extremely well as a team. We’ve prepared ourselves well coming into a weekend. And if we keep doing that, I’m sure we can do great things. So yeah, I won’t change my approach.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Daniel, you mentioned what you’ve been doing with James Corden over the past couple of days. The things you and Lando were wearing yesterday caused a bit of a stir on social media. You’re doing that, you’ve done Trevor Noah last week as well. The fact you guys are getting on these late night US shows I mean, just how much does that show how much was flash and how mainstream F1 has now gone into us?
DR: Yeah, the so the outfit was certainly questionable…. if the mic didn’t pick that up, Fernando said we need to see Zak in that outfit! Sorry, it was worth sharing. It was a good one. But yeah, we’ve obviously been having fun with it, but for sure the sport’s getting a massive push here in the States. I don’t feel it’s forced, you know, everyone’s pushing it because everyone wants to see it and the interest is so high and it’s been really cool just to like, I think ultimately for us it’s not about being on TV more or whatever, it’s about being able to share the sport with a bigger audience, you know. I keep relating, when I was at school there was me and one other kid who were watching F1, it was two of us in a school of hundreds of kids. So, now I feel it’s so much more. It’s just more people talk about it, it’s cool for us to share it. And it’s been a passion our whole lives. So to bring in a new audience and I’m sure there’s people in the States probably didn’t know what F1 was, you know, a few years ago, and now, it’s one of their favourite sports. So that’s, that’s really cool to hear.
Q: (Edd Straw – The Race) A question for Fernando. You mentioned this is your most competitive start to the season in terms of your personal performance? How do you evaluate that? Is it just purely a feeling? Or is there a bit more science to it? And what are the factors that allow you to be starting the season strongly in terms of that performance level?
FA: Yeah, well, it was not only me, I mean, I refer to me on the team. You know, we’ve been quite competitive every session that we did so far this year. I think we are top six or top seven. And that didn’t happen for sure in my McLaren years, or the last few seasons in Ferrari, or last year with Alpine. So that’s the facts, you know, that I’m referring to, and that’s pure, competitive places that we achieve in free practice and qualifying so far. And on the races, I think for things that they were maybe out of our hands, just pure reliability problems we didn’t finish the job. But you know, so far, the car feels fast. And you know, and I’m confident with the car. That is never a guarantee, you know, when you change the rules, and we have new tires as well, the 18-inch tire, etc. Sometimes you need to adapt yourself a little bit and get the confidence into the car, to be able to push 100% and I had that quite immediately from winter testing. So I feel good.
Q: (Stuart Codling – GP Racing) Question for Charles, you talked about turning the page earlier… Hello, I’m behind your little sound thing? I don’t have an oblong head. Maybe I do. You talked about turning the page? How do you actually go about doing that? When you’re in the position you’re in, you know, you this is potentially your biggest shot so far at winning the Formula 1 World Championship. You’ve got a great car. Mistakes are therefore quite expensive. So how do you adjust your mindset to sort of dial out maybe moments over ambition and things like that, without actually losing that sort of adventure that makes you a really fast driver and an a potential championship winner?
CL: Yeah, I think it’s a balance to find. Because whenever you take risks, and these risks are successful, nobody really notices. There’s a good result at the end of the weekend but nobody knows exactly how many risks you took to arrive to that result. Whenever you do a mistake, then obviously everyone sees it. So it’s a balance I need to find. On that particular lap, I saw an opportunity to finish second. I think, before that, it was very clear to me that we were going to finish third because we didn’t have the performance to beat the Red Bull that weekend. And on that particular lap, I pushed too much. So then once I know that, once I’ve analysed the data and know exactly what I’ve done, then it’s time to move on. I cannot do much more about it. The position I’m in in the championship doesn’t change it. It doesn’t make it any harder to move on. I just try to go through the same process all the time, whatever the position I’m in. And yeah, that’s it.
Q: (Mike Baumann – The Ringer) This question is for Nicholas. In one of the earlier sessions, there was a lot of talk about where the next American F1 driver might come from and Checo and Lance both had comments about the commitment it takes to move across the world as a young North American driver to pursue racing career in Europe, and I was curious if you had anything to add to that in terms of your own experience about the gravity of the commitment that takes?
NL: Yeah, it’s definitely a very big commitment. Not only for North Americans, I mean, obviously Daniel can relate to that quite a lot as well. And yeah, it’s definitely a big commitment, a big sacrifice. I mean, you move away from your family and friends, and your home, from a very, very young age. Racing in Europe in the junior series, on the weekends most of the other drivers are able to take an hour or a two-hour flight home, see their family and friends in the off-time and that obviously was not a luxury for me and I’m sure for Checo or Lance or Daniel. So it is difficult, and it is something that comes with the territory. It’s something that I was very happy to do, to pursue my passion. So yeah, I guess any driver that’s not really European-based, whether they’re in the junior series or already racing at a high level, it is a commitment. I’m sure if they want to make that step, it’s something they’ll be happy to do, because obviously this is the pinnacle and yeah, I’m sure most drivers would, would love to be in that position.
Q: (Nathan Brown – USA Today) This question is for Fernando. Fernando, you spent your 2017 Indianapolis 500 racing with Andretti Autosport. I know Michael has made a commitment that he’d like to potentially enter F1 at some point in a couple of different avenues. Can you give us a perspective of what you think the Andretti name in Formula 1 would do for the sport, particularly with the rise that we’ve seen in the United States?
FA: Well, sure, it could be a big thing. I know Michael very well, I know the Andretti family and they are obviously a big part of motor sport in general and they are legends. So if we can have them in Formula 1 that will be the best news, I think for both. Formula 1 would benefit from that and obviously Michael and his team will benefit from the sport and from being in Formula 1. And I think they have the capabilities, the resources, they have the talent to be in Formula 1 and be competitive as well. So I hope this thing comes true in the next few years, and I will follow very closely.
Q: (Holly Kane – Gannet Newspapers/USA Today) Charles, I’m just wondering if you could speak a little bit, I know we’re still early in the season, but certainly you and Max fighting for wins and running up front alongside one another. You have a long history of knowing each other and kind of coming up the ranks. Could you just talk about what that’s like, kind of going toe to toe with him so much the season?
CL: I mean, it feels good. I remember when we were in karting fighting together, we basically did all our karting years together. And we were both dreaming of one day arriving to Formula 1 and now it’s the case and we’re also fighting for the championship. So yeah, it’s really cool. I like to fight with Max, it’s always on the limit. And I really enjoy it for now. So I hope it can stay like this for the rest of the season and hopefully we’ll be able also to improve the car throughout the season to stay with them for the fight in the Championship.
Q: (Matt Coch – Speedcafe.com) Predictably to Daniel, a couple of questions. Firstly, you’ve got a pretty rad helmet this weekend. Can you tell us a little bit about that and your pet detectoring? Also, you mentioned some stuff you’re doing with James Corden? We saw an image of you and Lando yesterday. You’re doing some filming for the Late Show, I understand. Can tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing there. And what James has been doing around, I saw him being your media minder earlier on?
DR: Yeah, no worries. Beard is still really strong, good on you, Matt. So first one, the helmet. Yeah. So you will definitely understand, I feel like you’re definitely part of the same generation. I was born late ‘80s. But I know Ace Ventura Pet Detective, at least was, ‘90s I think the early part of the ‘90s. And it was one of the first movies I loved. And I just pretty much remember the movie off by heart. And just with my friends, cousins, it was just a very kind of, I guess, iconic movie and a big part of our childhood was watching that and quoting it so yeah, obviously that that’s you know, got a lot to do with the Miami Dolphins, that movie, and so we decided to do an Ace Ventura-themed helmet for the race. I feel like maybe the two guys next to me are like ‘Ace Ventura, what was that?’ Have you ever heard of this movie? Yeah? Alright, that’s good. So I guess people who know, know, and it’s just something I am very passionate about. Yeah, big fan of Jim Carrey’s movies as well. And yeah, so that’s that. And I want to talk more about that, but I’m going to leave it at that because I just love it so much. And then James is basically following the team around his offering input into engineering, driver training. He feels that we should be winning races. So he’s trying to, I guess insert himself into a top tier kind of role in the team this weekend. That’s all. You can turn the camera off me now!
Q: (Carlos Miguel – Marca) I would like to make an off-topic question to Fernando. It’s about soccer. What are your feelings about the comeback of Real Madrid against the City? And if you have something to say to the people that these days say that Real Madrid doesn’t deserve the final?
FA: Honestly, I didn’t watch the game unfortunately, I was on an event, so yeah, I missed the show, but you know, I was super happy and you know, I’m big Real Madrid fan and those kinds of days and games, you know, make me feel, you know, very proud to be a Real Madrid fan. So yeah, they deserve to be in the final. And hopefully they can win it.
Q: Tempted to make the trip to Paris over the Monaco weekend?
FA: No, no, I’m a fan but I’m not that crazy.
Q: (Jeff Gluck – The Ringer) One more for Charles . We’ve seen that video going around with you and Max from 2012 where you had that conflict. Is there any other conflicts that you guys had from your karting days that we don’t know about or haven’t seen?
CL: Oh, the list is long. In karting we had a lot of conflicts. Yeah, really a lot! We’ve been racing together for like four or five years and every races we would be fighting for wins and obviously loads of things happened in karting. We were also young, crazy and yeah, we hated each other at that moment. But now we grew, the experience is more and obviously also we have both realised our dream to be fighting for F1 so the relationship has changed since then. But now I think we both look back to these years with a smile on our face. This video is viral, I’ve seen it so many times now on social media. But yeah, it was a very good years for sure.
Q: (Jenna Fryer – Associated Press )It’s for all of you, and it may seem silly. With this long straight here, does your mind ever wonder, can you lose focus?
FA: No, we will not lose focus for sure. And it’s not that long in a Formula 1 car.
NL: Yeah, it goes by pretty quickly in these cars. It’s the opportunity where you can choose to, let’s say, have a look at the steering wheel and make some changes if you want. So I wouldn’t necessarily classify that as losing focus, because you’re still doing something that you need to do. But yeah.
MS: I mean, I guess the straight would be long enough to have a coffee, but yeah, I think you shouldn’t lose focus. That’s probably the, the proper answer to it.
DR: It obviously goes very fast. But I will say this: it’s never fast enough. And you get so used to the speed that it actually… I think on the weekend, by the time we’re on lap 40 or 50 it will start to feel like in a way kind of slow and long, so I guess it’s never fast enough. And if we could go faster down the straight, we would happily do it.
CL: I don’t think we will lose focus. I mean we are used to do that. Hopefully there are some screens so we can watch TV while we are on the straight, which is normally what I do whenever you have a lonely race – you always try and find the TV screens around on track to check the action. So yeah, if there are some nice TV screens we will probably watch TV during the during the straight.
DR: That’s not a joke, We all do it. Because sometimes you don’t know where you are or who’s winning the race or whatever, so you might just have a look and see. It’s true.
CL: Hopefully I’ll be watching myself winning the race. That would be great.
Group 4– George RUSSELL (Mercedes), Zhou GUANYU (Alfa Romeo), Lando NORRIS (McLaren), Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari), Sebastian VETTEL (Aston Martin)
Q: Let’s go left to right to start with. George, just give us a little flavour of what you’ve been up to in Miami. How much you enjoying yourself?
George RUSSELL: I like it here. I arrived a few days early as I had to be here early for an event. So I went to the Miami Heat game, which was cool. Just things are done differently here in the US and I think it’s just pretty awesome to see the vibe and everybody’s just so happy and upbeat and active as well. You know, I’ve been waking up early every morning, 6:30am, for just a walk or run down the down the beachfront and everybody’s out and I think that’s pretty cool to see. And I mean, it’s a little bit contradicting with you know, the juicy burgers like Lando has been eating, so he told me, later in the evenings, but it’s just cool to see that and I like it in the States.
Q: And how much has Miami Gardens changed since you were last here?
GR: I was here in October after Austin and it was kind of just like a car park and now you come here and it’s one of the biggest, most spectacular sporting event in the world. And I’ve been really impressed to see what we’ve done with the place. But obviously, you know, we’re racing drivers and we’re just excited to get on track to see what we make of it. I think it’s got a mixture of everything. I think some sections are really cool, high- speed, fast and flowing. Other sections look interesting to say the least with a very slow-speed, tight section. Things like 10, 12 and 13, 14. That’ll be challenging, but for sure, offers opportunity.
Q: And how much progress do you think you’re going to make with your racing car this weekend?
GR: Yeah, for sure, we’ve got a few things to try this weekend. I don’t think there will be any silver bullets, but it’s definitely going to give us a much better indication of the direction we need to take in future events. And I think these past couple of weeks and months since day one really have been vital into understanding the problem and developing the tools to be able to find solutions. And I think we’re finally getting to a point where we feel confident that in races to come we might be able to might be able to solve it. But we’ll have to wait and see.
Q: Thank you, George. Zhou, coming to you. How excited are you to be in Miami this weekend?
Zhou GUANYU: Yeah, for me, obviously. It’s the first time visiting Miami. Second time in the US. And so yeah, unfortunately not getting to see the playoffs in the NBA. So I just missed out because I arrived on the Monday so I missed out the game. And then Wednesday was the event in the stadium, so I missed out again. But yeah, we’ll get that one day. And nevertheless, I think it’s great to feel the culture, the vibes, you know, in this country and yeah, I had a burger as well. That’s the first dinner I had for sure. And just these massive burgers and hopefully the weight is still OK! But yeah, I think nevertheless, I really like the track. Finally you know, after Imola, that’s coming to here maybe we can definitely making some overtaking opportunities in the race.
Q: And do you feel this is a new track for everybody? So do you feel that you’re starting the weekend on more of an equal footing with everybody else?
ZG: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s been more equal than the past events where there’s new tracks to adapt to. And this weekend of course, still with a lack of experience, the others have more, but then all the teams and all the drivers are starting from pretty much the same benchmark here in Miami. They have to be adapting with the temperature. the layout. So, for me, it’s a bit more opportunity, more doors opening for this weekend and yeah, hopefully try to you know, put everything together and of course, Imola hurting us a lot the spring race DNF so yeah.
Q: Best of luck this weekend to you as well. Thank you, Lando coming to you. How’s Miami?
Lando NORRIS: It’s been great so far. Yeah, it’s cold, so I got my hoodie on. It’s been a lot of fun. You know, I’ve met some cool people already. Everyone knows I love my golf, so I got to play with some cool people and meet them for the first time as well. So it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been eating some really good healthy food. And yeah, I’m just excited to get going, you know, on the new circuit for everyone, like Zhou said, it’s exciting, new challenges. So I look forward to it.
Q: Tell us about your new helmet as well?
LN: It’s just a basketball. I was asked what is the inspiration and I think it’s quite obvious – it’s just a basketball. I kind of knew everyone’s gonna go for palm trees and boring stuff. No, I like his one, I actually rate his one. Yeah, it’s probably the best other one. So, I just wanted to do something, I guess very different. I mean, it’s not like elegant and wow but it’s just simple and different to what a lot of people go for. So it’s cool. The guys did a great job of actually making it look like a basketball. It’s not so simple. And, you know, it’s texture like the basketball as well. So it’s cool, so maybe would have suited George more, considering they like bouncing a bit more. So that could have been better. But yeah, I think hopefully mine is just a fast one.
Q: How much confidence do you have coming into this weekend? Given the pace of the car last time out at Imola?
LN: It’s tricky. I honestly don’t think we know truly where our pace stands. I think we can confidently say we have a better car than what we had in the first race of the season. Of course, that made us look like we’ve gone from in a way zero to hero and turn things around, which I think we’ve done you know. The team have worked so hard to try not let that happen again, and just scored some better results, scored some good points and we’ve gone from having what felt like one of the worst weekend’s ever to a sixth, a fifth and a third. So, we’re on a good roll. I think as long as we keep that up, I’m maybe not expecting a podium or a top five. You know, we know that Ferrari and Red Bull are quite a bit quicker than us. So as long as you just kind of go for those good points I think we can be happy with that.
Q: Thank you, Lando. Good luck to you. Carlos coming to you. You look like a man who needs a change of luck.
Carlos SAINZ: Thank you.
Q: Just how much time have you spent dwelling on the last couple of races? It’s been a tough one.
CS: Ah, not much actually. I feel like you know when something like Imola happens that is a bit out of your control it is a lot easier to put behind you because you cannot do nothing against it. So yeah, pretty easy. Twenty-four hours normally does the job for me. And since then just trying to focus on Miami, preparing well for here, enjoying also life here in Miami and just focus on the next one like, like always.
Q: Did you draw some inspiration from Real Madrid getting into the final of the Champions League?
CS: Yeah, I mean, it’s not like I need Real to prove to me that you can turn things around super quickly in sport, but it’s a great example of how sport works. Sometimes you go through a rough patch and suddenly, just you need a click, something changes and if you always believe in it, it always happens. Real had five minutes left, I have 19 races left. So I think I have plenty of time yet.
Q: And Carlos, what is the mood in the camp at Ferrari? When you look at the pace of Red Bull last time out is that are you concerned about their pace relative to yours?
CS: It’s not a concern; it’s just a challenge. We embrace it. We’re up against one of the best teams in Formula 1. It’s one tenth up or down in every Grand Prix. We just need to make sure that tenth goes in our favour more often than not. And the development race is about to start in the next few months and it’s where it is going to start getting exciting. And we just need to make sure we maximise our chances and, and from Miami we start getting them back.
Q: Sebastian, thank you for waiting. Tell us about your experiences in Miami so far this week?
Sebastian VETTEL: Well, I arrived at the beginning of the week. And yeah, Wednesday, we had some stuff to do with the team and we went to also visit the school, which was very interesting. And seeing a lot of young boys and girls from maybe a neighbourhood that is quite far away from our standards, from Formula 1 standards. But it was nice to see the curiosity and interest, the growing interest in our sport. And then, yeah, obviously, yesterday I was at the track but before that I was able to meet with people from very different backgrounds. But all with a, let’s say, common vision when it comes to the future. Obviously I’ve addressed a little bit, not my concerns, but the concerns with regards to what’s happening in South Florida in the future. So yeah, it was nice to have a chat with people who actually knew exactly what they’re talking about and how they felt and where things are going, what a potential future could look like? So, yeah, it was interesting and obviously, other than that I spent the time on the track and trying to get as much questions answered as you can before we get on track.
Q: Let’s talk about your car performance. How much of a lift was the race last time out in Imola? A double points finish. Do you feel you’re making true progress with the car now?
SV: Well, we know it’s obviously a difficult situation we are in. I think Imola helped us with the conditions. In terms of pace, we know that it’s still a struggle. We don’t have any bits here. But, you know, I think it’s going to be a challenging weekend. It’s very hot. It’s going to be the hottest weekend we’ve had so far this season, in this season, with regards to tires as well. So we will see maybe there’s some rain again. So yeah, definitely open to whatever the weekend will bring.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Jordan Bianchi – The Athletic) This question is for Sebastian. Lewis Hamilton was in here earlier and he was being asked about the FIA asking him to remove his jewellery and stuff. And he said it was an unnecessary, and he called it a step backwards and said that the FIA should be focusing its attention on other more important issues. I’m wondering, as someone who has been outspoken about FIA focusing on important issues, what your thoughts on this is and if it’s an unnecessary thing that they’re fighting right now with Lewis?
SV: Well, I think it is a bit unnecessary to blow this topic up. Probably at this stage it’s more of a personal thing. And I feel in a particular way targeted to Lewis. I mean, we spoke about underpants as well. But really, is that the most exciting thing we can talk about? So in a way, you know, there’s a concern for safety. Obviously, if you have stuff and the car does catch fire, then it will be unpleasant. But on the other hand, I think, you know, to some degree, it’s personal freedom, and we’re old enough to make our choices outside the car, we should be old enough to make choices also inside the car.
Q: (Luke Smith – Autosport) Sebastian, you’ve been announced as a guest on BBC Question Time, I think in the next couple of weeks. I just want to know how did that come about? What made you want to be part of that? And what kind of issues do you think you’re going to be sort of wanting to highlight on that?
SV: I don’t know, I’m fairly open. But yeah, I think it’s a difficult… Not a difficult, a different format. And yeah, looking forward to it. I think there’s a lot that I can learn. Obviously, I have my opinion. I’m not saying it’s always right or wrong. But yeah, I think it will be interesting, because it will be a very different setting and probably different sorts of questions or topics to be spoken about. So yeah, fairly open at this point. And yeah, it really was coincidence, and I think it was an interesting, or it isn’t an interesting opportunity, because it’s just different and looking forward to it.
Q: (Alejandro Cisternas – El Mercurio) I’d like to ask Lando to tell me a little more about your golfing skills. You played with Joaquín Nieman, a PGA professional golfer. He also is a McLaren driver, a fan. So what would you tell me about this encounter?
LN: It was pretty cool actually. I mean I played the day before. I think Carlos played the day after with Dustin Johnson and I guess it’s just pretty amazing getting to see what a top athlete is like you know in an alternative sport, you know whatever it is, whether it’s basketball or golf or tennis, cricket whatever. Seeing the Formula 1 equivalent or Formula 1 driver equivalent in other sports and just seeing how they approach things you know, because a lot of things are similar, some are obviously very different, but the mentality side of it, the constant striving for perfection in everything that they do. But also what annoys me is just how easy they make it look. I’m sure it’s the same when they look at it our way you know. We can hop in the car and make it look probably quite easy. And when they try, it’s not so easy. So it’s just fascinating to see that and understand how they approach it and what they’ve gone through you know. He’s only 23 years old, which actually shocked me the first time I saw it. But yeah, a lot of fun. We had a great day. I didn’t quite beat him. But I had a good try. I just learned a lot from them you know. I can have a good time. I’m fascinated by it. It’s just something I have a lot of interest in and something that I think I use as well to help me improve even from the racing side, with the mentality and overcoming issues and problems and always trying to improve consistently. So yeah, lovely guy, hopefully we are going to play again sometime soon, hopefully and have a rematch.
Q: Where was his game better than yours?
LN: Everywhere. Yeah, everywhere – putting, driving, wedges… I don’t know, just golf. He’s better than me at golf.
Q: (Nathan Brown – USA Today) This question is for Sebastian. You started your career at a US Grand Prix, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a track that had a lot of history behind it. We’ve since seen races in the US move to places that have a lot of cultural cachet. Lewis talked earlier about these races need to be about people and the fans and I’m curious to know if you feel like a race at IMS down the road for Formula 1 would be a proper fit or not with where Formula 1 is today?
SV: Not the easiest question. I’m not sure I’m the right person to judge because obviously, there’s always personal flavour. I think the US has fantastic race circuits with incredible history. Obviously, creating a circuit here is a very different interest. So racing in the cities is exciting because people are already there. You don’t need to excite the people, because in the first place, they are already close. But certainly from a racing or driving point of view, I think racing… I think Indianapolis is a bit of a half racetrack. If you’re not racing on the oval, you’re not doing the real thing. But, you know, I don’t know going to Road America…. for certainly the money that was spent to build this could have easily, you know, brought the standard up in great places, like Road America. And from a driving point of view, I think they would be a lot more thrilling. From a fan point of view. I think that’s difficult for me to judge because the last time I sat on the grandstand to watch the race was in 2001. So, a long time ago, and yeah, every fan is different. So I guess it’s more for the fans in a way to decide. But certainly from a racing and driving thrill, I’d love to go to proper tracks.
Q: What race was that in 2001?
Q: (Cork Gaines – Business Insider) This is a question for all of you. There’s a lot of talk recently about the American expansion going to three races next year, questions about when there might be the next American driver in F1. And while I’m sure all of you guys are happy to keep your seats and keep an American driver out anytime soon, let me ask you this way, you guys have plenty of experience driving around the United States now. Tell me something that drives you guys nuts about American drivers and driving in America.
GR: I’ve not really had any experience with American drivers. Not that I can really remember. Maybe there was one or two when we were going through karting. I think Formula 1 is the pinnacle of the sport. And we shouldn’t have a driver on the grid just because of their nationality. We should have the best drivers earning their right to be here and proving them themselves when they’re here. So I think we don’t live in a perfect world but this is the pinnacle and it needs to stay like that. We have the best engineers, we have the best everything here, we go to the best places and that needs to filter down to the drivers as well. And when you’ve got the best, often the show becomes even better. And I mean I even going to the Heat game, you can see who the best players are. You can see how they move and that is exciting for the fans. So yeah, I’d say that’s where I stand on that.
ZG: Yeah, I mean, not much to add on George, I think. You know, you have to prove yourself in the junior categories and then you know, if you show good results, there’ll be opportunity for you to open, and as I know coming from F2 there are plenty of young drivers or young generation in my age [group] waiting for a seat at the minute. So yeah, it’s not really related to nationality, it’s more like you know, if you’re good enough, then you have to show yourself in another category, then you get a chance and then you do the same, prove yourself again in Formula 1.
LN: They’re just crazy. I mean, I grew up with Colton. He’s here with us this weekend. But I grew up with Colton, end of 2014-2015 my first season of single seaters. And I mean, his nickname is Hooligan Herta. Because there’s one place he was extremely strong and that’s high-speed corners. And I feel like I’m decent, one of my strengths is pretty high-speed corners. But he was just like, another level in some sorts. He would quite often go off because of it and maybe not crash, but just go through the gravel and you know, we’d have to clean his car after because of how much dirt there was on it. But yeah, lovely guy, of course. But I grew up with him, you know, when I was younger for a good year and a half, two years. And just a bit crazy. A bit of a hooligan. And yeah, it’s just nice to see him again. Nice to see him, from where we were back in 2014, 2015, to now me myself being in Formula 1 and of course him winning races and being one of the stars in IndyCar so yeah, hooligans.
CS: I have very little to add, to be honest. I think what George says describes it very well. I think Formula 1 is… We welcome anyone that is a top level driver, you know, and if that is American, then so be it. I don’t think you need to look into nationalities, you need to look at talent. And yeah, if I’m sure if there’s one guy out there that has the talent to be in Formula 1, he will get here and we will welcome him racing, and race him hard and have fun.
SV: Well, I think ultimately, talent will always come through. But I think from my own experience, when I was young, growing up, I saw young American kids trying to make the switch to Europe and trying to get on. And I think often you only get judged by your results. But I think you mustn’t forget that, you know, America is a very big country, the culture is very different, the way you approach racing and I think as a child to get thrown into Europe and perform, it’s very difficult, because things are just different. And it’s very natural, I would say, to go back to the US because there’s so much great things. I mean, racing is popular over here. Obviously, Formula 1 is, you know… We are racing here, but it’s still not as popular as maybe series as such as NASCAR. Even though the interest is rising, but I would still think that, you know, you need to take into account a different culture. And, yeah, I hope that the two merge at some point. I hope that F1 relaxes in some way and it would be great to give more chances to young American kids racing in Europe or doing the switch to European Junior categories, where the level is just a different one, because you’ve got more of a mix from you know, all over the world coming, kids from all over the world coming together.
Q: And of course, Sebastian, you replaced an American driver at Toro Rosso back in the day, 2007?
SV: Yeah. As it turned out, he was a bit of a hooligan as well at the time, which was, you know, a chance for me. But no, Scott is a great guy and, you know, great fun. And I think one of the, you know, an incredible talent, but maybe a very good example of exactly what I was trying to explain. He just didn’t fit because, you know, the way things are approached in Formula 1 were just not his style and not the way he was he brought up. So yeah, I think it would be great if, as the whole world, we would get a little bit closer and we would be all people open for people being different. I think Scott was a great talent, but he was different in many ways.
Q: (Scott Mitchell – The Race) Sebastian, we are obviously here at another new event. F1 has been adding races in the Middle East, the Americas will have the race in Vegas next year. But if you look back at F1 in Europe, the race that’s really obviously missing is your home race in Germany. I wondered if you feel any optimism that you might be able to get back there before the end of your career because this week we’ve had… I don’t know if you saw the Volkswagen Group CEO talking about Porsche and Audi entries in 2026 and hoping that that could help or encourage F1 returning to Germany. He said he’s aware of plans for F1 to race in Germany again. What do you think of Germany’s prospects?
SV: I don’t know if Germany will make it in time for me. But obviously, I had the privilege to race in Germany for many years. I don’t know. I think in the end, obviously, if you look the places that we’re going, I think Germany is not prepared to pay that sort of money to have the Grand Prix. Simple as that. Other regions, other countries in Europe are struggling. I think Spa is a very good example. And it’s a shame that what we saw last year, with the rain with the rain cancelling the race and the people not getting a refund on their tickets. But to blame Spa I think would be wrong, because, you know, they’re already struggling to make up the money they lose in the first place. So I don’t know, I’m not the developer of the sport. And I’m not setting the business plan and the targets. But clearly, you can see that the places we’re going and the new venues we’re going, it’s great to explore but it’s also money driven for the sport, I guess, to develop the way they want to develop. But yeah, it is a shame losing out in Germany. It would be a shame losing out on Spa. It would be a shame losing out on Spain, which there was a lot to talk about. And, you know, if those countries are not ready to pay the high entry fees anymore, they will fall off that list. And that would be a shame. Certainly, some races you’d think have a guarantee, such as Silverstone, Monza. But I don’t know. We’ll see what happens in the next years. But it would be great, to answer your question, if Germany was back on the calendar, but I doubt it.
Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsport.com) A question to Carlos. Carlos, there’s been a bit of excitement about the Imola tire test you did after the race there. And I guess the key question is: have you changed floors? And if you did, was that floor raced in a race earlier?
CS: I’m not sure if… I’m not aware about any of these at the moment. The specifics of the floor, whatever we ran in the Imola test, you can ask Pirelli or Ferrari what we did. I have nothing to say right now. I have no idea.