F1: British GP Thursday Press Conference Q&A
Q: Let’s start with the home hero, Lando Norris. First up, did you beat Justin Rose at golf yesterday?
Lando NORRIS: What do you think? No! I tried. I’m definitely getting there. But no, not even one hole.
Q: Well, better luck this weekend at Silverstone. Just give us a flavor of how you’re feeling coming into your home race, and what a wonderful track Silverstone is.
LN: I mean, of course extremely excited. Lovely to be back here, back at home. Already see a lot of the fans come into the circuit today and obviously, especially for tomorrow. So yeah, just happy to be back. It’s a very enjoyable weekend, and I loved it last year from start to finish. It’s busy, it’s tough, but it’s such a memorable experience by the end of it. So, yeah, I’m hoping the weather can be good for everyone. Bits of rain on the radar for the next couple of days, but hopefully not too much, and everyone can have a good and fun weekend.
Q: Fernando coming to you. You’re a two-time British Grand Prix winner. What sort of a welcome do you get when you come here?
Fernando ALONSO: It is one of the best weekends I think, for everyone, when we come in Silverstone. A lot of great races happened here, all Formula 1 community is based in the UK basically and there is a lot of understanding about our sport. So yeah, I feel a lot of respect, always, when I come here. And normally, Silverstone provides a lot of action as well on track. So, I love to come here.
Q: Alpine showed so much promise in Canada. How confident are you about your on-track performance?
FA: I’m curious to see how we can perform here. I think after three street circuits – or semi-street, like Baku, Canada and Monaco, we come back to more normal place. Let’s see how we can perform here – but I’m reasonably optimistic.
Q: Mick, coming to you now. When are you going to score some World Championship points. Canada was so brilliant on Saturday. Just how do you reflect on everything that happened that weekend?
Mick SCHUMACHER: Obviously Sunday seemed like it was the day and we were, I think, in the mix with most people and it seemed also pace-wise we were there. So yeah, hopefully, with no issues this weekend, we might be able to clinch our first point.
Q: How competitive do you think the car will be?
MS: I think it’ll be better here. I think we should be pretty good with the medium downforce setup and stuff. So yeah, I think that should be a good direction for us.
Q: Checo, coming to you now. Looking through your British Grand Prix results, you need a good result here at Silverstone!
Sergio PÉREZ: Yeah, thanks for the reminder! I do! It hasn’t been nice to me the last races around the UK. So, I really hope that I’m able to put it together this weekend and get to know the podium here.
Q: And what do you think about the car’s performance through the high-speed sweeps here?
SP: Yeah, I think should be good. We should be in a good place. But we’ll see. I think, definitely, the competition will be close. So, we have to make sure, and always with the weather here, you know, it can play a big part in it.
Q: And have you put your order in for the RB17 Hypercar?
SP: I’ve been told I’m on the list, so yes!
Q: Sebastian, you’re a two-time Silverstone winner as well. You’ve been on the British staples of Top Gear, Question Time, you’re doing a Nigel Mansell demo run on Sunday before the race. Does this feel like a home race to you?
Sebastian VETTEL: In many ways, it does. Obviously, the passport doesn’t show so, and flying in, the queue is a bit longer than it used to be. So not the nicest welcome, travelling now. But indeed it is a very special place. You mentioned the history here. And you know, our team is just from across the road and we certainly win the competition, who is closest because you know, it’s sort of everybody’s except two teams – three teams maybe – everybody’s home Grand Prix in a way. But definitely, I think, racing for Aston Martin, a British brand with a lot of heritage, and being across the road, I think everybody sees our new facilities coming up every time they get in. So, yeah, it is a very, very special weekend for us. And we’re very much looking forward to it. And there’s other reasons why as well, as you mentioned, so I’m looking forward to Sunday to drive Nigel’s car from ‘92, 30 years later. So that should be thrilling. Lots of things to look forward to.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Craig Slater – Sky Sports News) A question to Sebastian and Lando, relating to Lewis Hamilton, because you Sebastian and Lewis have shared a lot of support in different causes and because you’re obviously a fellow British driver, Lando, I just want to get your thoughts on how you feel about what Lewis has been through over the last few days, relating to Nelson Piquet’s comments, Nelson’s subsequent apology, and also the statements from the FIA and F1 about the matter?
SV: Well, I think… where to start? I think it’s more than just the recent days, if you are very honest. It is probably what he has been through, and his family has been through, his entire life. Now, any form of abuse, I think, is wrong. So, I think it was great to see that there was so much response from all of the F1 community and so quickly, people, responded and expressed support on the matter, towards Lewis. I don’t think that there should be any room for this kind of comments, and we still have to do a lot. I think we’ve come a lot further than maybe years ago but it doesn’t help when there’s still these things out there. And people still using inappropriate language and saying wrong things. So, I think it is very important to talk about it and continue to talk about it because, as I said, it is not gone, and it won’t be gone overnight – that would be great – but it is a bigger matter and F1 in that regard has a responsibility to carry and address these issues, which I think we’re trying to. We have the campaign We Race as One, which, you know, is very clear where we are going and where we want to go in the future. And more than language, and things that we are trying to do, I think is how we behave and how we include everyone there is, no matter which color you are, no matter what type of partner you have, what’s your sexual orientation. So any community is welcome. And we should always respond in that way, very quickly, and make it clear that, we are open to anyone because, kindness matters, people matter, and, it was, like I said, bad to see what was going on.
Q: Lando, please?
LN: I think Seb gave a pretty perfect explanation. And like you said, in the beginning, I don’t think this is something Lewis has had, just recently, or just now. It’s something that something that he’s had to live with and deal with for a lot of his career, since he started. He’s said that many times, so I think we all know how strong-willed a person he is, and how we can get through these times and things like that, because it’s, it’s definitely not a not an easy thing. But, first of all, I think, as Seb said, there’s no room for these kinds of comments, or people bringing these comments to Formula 1, and about people – especially on such a public stage. It’s never a nice thing. As Formula 1, we want to be always create positive change. And although we are Formula 1 drivers, and that’s what we love and want to do the most, we still want to make things better in the world and we want to create changes and always good ones. And it highlights that. We still need to continue to do this. And although we work on different areas, and different things, and climate change, and whatever, there’s still the more simple and obvious ones that need to have our continued support and continued voices to speak openly about it. It’s tough. Obviously, everyone feels and supports Lewis as a person and as a driver, I’m sure he’s a strong guy and can get through these times. But Seb gave a much better answer than I’ll be able to give.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Lando, your comments lead me on to your own personal struggles which you’ve documented this week in a newspaper interview. Are you a strong guy? What has helped you through the last year? Because you’ve probably suffered more than most of us in this room would have ever thought, before you raise the issue and rightly raised the issue.
LN: Yeah, I think… I don’t think it’s just me. Maybe I’ve been more open than a lot of probably other drivers, speaking about it, on certain topics and certain things, especially from the online abuse side of it. Especially because that’s how I’ve grown up. I’ve grown up on these platforms, and Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, whatever. So, it’s just something I love being kind of part of, and I’m very involved in – but of course, me and I’m sure, pretty much every other driver gets a lot of hate and abuse and things like that. And I guess from a mental state of it, it’s never an easy thing to continue to go through. And, there’s just no need for it, whatsoever. And the point of it literally just coming from a person who’s sitting behind their phone, or a computer, whatever it is, I just find it odd that someone’s wasting their life doing something like this, you know? They’re not trying to go out and have fun and spend time with their friends and create memories. They’re trying to bring people down, which I think is a waste of our lives here. A very limited time that we get, so it’s a shame. Of course, it’s never easy for me to speak about it. But it’s something that, especially with the comments you get back, and the change that people say I’ve had in their lives and the impact that I’ve had on their lives. No matter if I’m confident or not to talk about it, the impacts you can have overrides any of that. So, if there’s any things that I can ever help on – I’m sure every driver wants to help on – then when you have that change, and you can potentially save someone’s life. That means more than anything.
Q: (Mathias Brunner – Speedweek) Seb, driving this Williams in the demo – was that your initiative? Or were you contacted to do this? Or how did you start?
SV: Yeah, it was my idea. It’s my car. I bought the car some years ago, I think four years ago. Because you know, the Red Five is the car from ‘92 with the red five on it. And that means a bit more than just the car from the from 30 years ago. Obviously, I’ve got the number five on my car, I won my first championship with Red Five. Even if it was a little bit smaller on our car back then, but still it was number five. I was wearing number five in karting throughout karting quite a lot. And I’m having number five now, so there’s a link there. And I think the early 90s is the sort of… memories that I have from Formula 1 the first sort of memories, that car and the years after. Yeah, it was my idea, my initiative and you know, I thought 30 years… after exactly 30 years after it won the championship in ’92 but it also won the British Grand Prix 30 years ago. It’s, it’s a great idea. But I also thought we have to do it in a responsible way. So I’m using carbon-neutral fuels on Sunday, to demonstrate that, you know, we can, you know, still hang on to our history and heritage and culture in motorsport, but do it in a more responsible way. I’m very much looking forward to drive the car for the first time. And to yeah, hear a car. I think a lot of people will share the joy with me.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) A question for Fernando. Alpine launched an initiative, a program today, to try and get more women into motorsport and into the company and ultimately into Formula 1. And I spoke to Laurent Rossi and he said that he, when he pointed out that women are jet fighter pilots, and astronauts, and he said that a perfectly fit woman at 30 could be stronger than Fernando Alonso 41. I wonder if you have any comment on that?
FA: Probably they do!. Yeah, there should not be any reason why not? I feel okay to drive Formula 1 cars, but I’m probably not the strongest man in the world. And yeah, I think the team is doing a lot of initiatives in the last few years, to be more inclusive. Now, in Alpine road company, 12% of the company are women; in the Formula 1 team is 10 per cent. So still a long way to go. But definitely things are moving in the right direction. So yeah, I’m proud of all these initiatives and about the comments: yeah, probably he’s right.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Sorry, just to circle back to the Piquet comments. A question to all of you really, do you think F1 are doing enough with their We Race as One initiative, it strikes me that it’s very easy to be seen to be doing the right thing, but there’s no action actually being taken. We’ve also had an episode with an F2 driver being kicked out of the Red Bull program, but he is still allowed to race in Formula 2. Do you not think that there should be actions rather than words?
SV: Well, it’s probably right, you know, on very, very important matters and subjects that you can always do more. That I would agree. So you can never do enough. So yeah, I think we will be happy to do more and see more happening. On the other hand, you know, you cannot – it would be nice if you could, because then we would have gotten rid of the problem a long time ago – prevent people, single persons, to come up with these type of comments and saying these things. I think the action is our reaction to it, our behavior towards it and the examples we’re setting. So it is probably fine to do something and to activate and to mobilize people and to educate, but I think what really matters is that everybody, us on the grid, everybody in this room, every day in every situation that we are in, we act, the way we believe, and we think is correct. That means that if we see any sort of abuse, like Lewis had to go through recently, we respond to it. But also, if you step into a train and you see something happening in front of you, it’s not time to just think that’s wrong, it’s time to speak up and make it clear that it’s wrong. So it does take balls to speak up. It does take courage, but, you know, we shouldn’t be afraid of these situations anymore. Because I think we have more allies than we think. In that picture, that situation in a train or bus or anywhere in public doesn’t matter, could be outside here in the paddock, then it’s up to us to have that courage and to address it straightaway.
SP: Yeah, I think Seb covered it well. I think as a sport we certainly can do more, and it will never be enough, you know, to try and prevent these things from happening. And I think you could see that every comment out there has caused an example, you know, of how the sport reacted to it, how the community reacted to it. So I think we can all learn from it, because everyone in this room one day can make a mistake and say things you don’t want to say or something like that, but we feel like we can all learn from it and make sure that we give the right example to the younger generations, to the older generation and be seen as an example for the rest of the world.
MS: Yeah, I definitely agree with all of what was said. I think, as Seb says, it takes balls to speak up. And I think that if you are that one person who does, I think you will have a lot more followers than some would believe. And I think that, again, we as drivers, we don’t only support Lewis, but we supported all over the world that those kind of languages are not acceptable in any way or form, so yeah, hopefully we’ll make change and we’ll have an easier time sorting those people out.
FA: Yeah, difficult to add more things but yeah, definitely, there is no room for these type of comments and I think the reaction from the whole community was quite big. If it’s needed to take action, or no action, I think we will rely on the support, whatever that FIA, FOM is doing. The most important thing for us drivers is to show the support to Lewis and we stand with him and yeah, I think we will follow whatever FIA or FOM is doing and it is difficult to know which kind of action is needed. But definitely the reaction from everyone it was much better and probably not enough, but much better than what it has been ever in the sport. So this is clearly a direction that we need to keep going in and pursue.
LN: I think all topics have pretty much been covered. It’s very difficult to know. I think there is there is a difference between someone making, let’s say, a mistake and having used just wrong language and a wrong word versus and someone who is purposely trying to do it to discriminate and have it in the wrong meaning. But any racist language or slurs, whatever, are never accepted I don’t think any more or at all, factually. So I don’t know. I don’t think you’re entirely correct. I do see that just words do make a big difference. And the fact of how big something like this has become over the last few days, I think that already has a big impact. But I don’t think you can ask us what a deserved punishment is for someone that says something like that. You know, if it’s a genuine mistake, it’s hard to know that what that kind of punishment is and what’s deserved and what’s not. People make mistakes in life. And careers, I don’t think, should just be ended because of something like that. I think you should be able to get forgiven and get opportunities other times and so on. But yeah, it’s tough whether that kind of line is ever drawn at times. So yeah, I’m not too sure. But it’s not accepted. I don’t think we’re not doing anything. I think we are doing quite a bit as a sport and as a community. And it’s hard to do certain actions. You know, if I asked you what single thing can we just go out and do, on top of driving, on top of doing everything else that we do, it’s not a not an easy thing. We do a lot I think. We speak up about it, we say these things, we’re talking about it now. I think already things like this have a good impact on everything. So we’ll continue to do that and have the best impact we can.
Q: (Matt Kew – Autosport) Sergio, now you’re sort of well into your second season at Red Bull, do you feel more established? Has it been a development? Are you more comfortable having your say in decisions and calling the shots?
SP: Yeah, certainly, I think it always helps. The longer you spend with a team, the better it gets. In many regards, you know, just the confidence within the team, knowing the procedures, knowing how a team operates, how they think in terms of strategies, how they see the big picture. I think it’s all about understanding the big picture, as a group, as a team, and that has helped me a lot. And certainly, guiding the direction of the car on my set-up, you know, on doing my own thing, it has helped me a lot.
Q: (Ed Spencer – Motorlat.com) Sebastian, what are your expectations driving Nigel Mansell’s Williams on Sunday? Have you had any practice? And were there any challenges getting your new carbon neutral fuel into what is a 30-year-old Renault engine?
SV: What are my expectations? I am expecting to have a lot of fun. And I expect, or I hope people can share that. That fun? Because I think it’s an incredible car, the history of the car. And the way it sounds. So I’m looking forward to it. In terms of the fuel, actually, it was some effort to find the fuel. But once we found it, it was actually very easy. It only took one shakedown to get on top of it, and it will see it on Sunday. It’s no difference to how the car was 30 years ago, it will sound exactly the same, it will drive the same way. And yeah, I will not try within a couple of laps to go to the absolute limit, but I will try to enjoy it, which means I will go as fast as I feel comfortable with, bearing in mind it’s my car. So it’s maybe a bit different to a car that you’re just given… I shouldn’t say that, but yeah, I think it will be fun. And I think it’s great to demonstrate to people that, you know, motorsport is our passion. It’s what we grew up with. I think that the cars I dreamt off as a child are different to maybe some of the other drivers. But it is, I think, important to find a way that we can do it responsibly in the future as well, to keep these cars and the history alive. In the end there’s culture in many… You can express culture in many ways – music, arts – but our sort of culture, our way of expressing ourselves is driving cars, racing cars. And it would be a shame if that if that was all to disappear. And I think it’s a way to, you know, keep it alive. And looking forward, obviously Formula 1 is headed in that direction with 2026. Could be sooner, but, you know, it is what it is for many reasons. And yeah, I think that’s it’s a great way to put it all together and have some fun.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – RacingNews365.com) Primarily to Seb because you’ve been the most outspoken about the abuse, but any of the others if you’d like to join in. Lando referred there to forgiveness and not destroying careers. Whilst there is no excuse for any of these despicable actions and comments and whatever, should there be forgiveness? And if so, what form should it take?
SV: That’s very difficult to answer. But I think basically, it all hovers around empathy, you know. We need to be aware, if you look back, you know, some of the stuff that us humans pulled off in history is just very dark and very bad, you know, and it’s good to move on and say that this time has passed. But it’s very important to remember what happened. So not to just let it slip and be forgotten. Because I think if you forget about things like this, then there’s a risk of, you know, these things happening again, in one form or another. So, you know, I think it’s setting the example on the one hand. People look up to Sergio or Checo, to Fernando, maybe in their home countries, but also around the world. And they think Checo is a cool guy. And, you know, whatever Checo says is cool. And, you know, if he says the right things, we believe the right things. I’m just making an example! But, you know, the whole of Mexico follows and thinks this is cool. So, I think we need to find a way to express our opinions and express what we feel is right and what I think is right, you know, in terms of behavior and setting the right example, so that kids looking up to us think that this is cool, and they will, in a way, copy and try to be like us, I mean, that’s the way I looked at Michael when I was young. He was the coolest guy there was and I loved him in many, many ways. I loved his driving, but if he said the car was doing this and that and if he said, I don’t know, wearing these boots or doing whatever, then you of course, you believe it, and you follow. So I think it’s about us, people that are in the public light, to tell the right stories, to carry that responsibility and have that respect. Now, of course, we are also people that do mistakes, just like everyone else of us. I mean, it depends on the crime, you know, I’m not the police. And I’m not going tell you what’s the…. Give me the offense, and I’ll give you the penalty, sort of. But what needs to change is that these little things that some people look at and say, ‘Yeah, but it’s not that bad, he didn’t mean it that way or maybe it came out wrong’. Well, I think you really want those people to think about what they’re actually saying. And to realize they have made a mistake, and to change their behavior in the future. Because if it insults people, and if it is disrespectful and racist towards people, why would you want to hurt them? If you just think, why would you want to say these things if they hurt people. If you think ‘well, they’re not that bad’ but they do hurt people just leave it, just move on, in that regard, move on. Or educate yourself. Look back and see where they come from, and then you realize it’s not that cool. So I think it’s about setting that example, telling cool stories, and then when it comes to finding the right penalty or not, I think that’s very difficult to decide. But I think it’s, again, like I started, it hovers around empathy, I think forgiveness is valid. It obviously depends on what you’ve done. But in a way, what is clear is that we all do mistakes and it’s great if people try and help you on the way up again.
Q: (Simon Abberley – Nevis Radio) For Seb and for Fernando. With the budget cap this year, do you think that has maybe stifled, maybe slowed down things like development and research into things like carbon neutral fuels. And do you think that’s maybe had an impact on the road going cars in the near future as well?
FA: Probably yes, it does a little bit. We changed a little bit the way Formula 1 teams used to work and to develop the cars and the mentality they had in terms of being creative and exploring something very unique. I think now they are all very worried about the budget cap and try to stick with a plan that they set already at the beginning of the year. So that’s a new way of racing, probably, and also, I don’t know which kind of impact will have on the future as well of the fuels of the road cars or whatever. But definitely, I feel a change comparing to any other season.
SV: On the cars absolutely agree. You know, the budget cap makes a difference on the development of the cars. For the engine, it’s a different thing. Obviously, it’s frozen by now. But you’re still allowed to, as far as I understand, to work on reliability. So the engine hasn’t been in the budget cap until this point. Now it’s supposed to be frozen. There will be some updates on reliability if people are in trouble. But it is frozen until ‘26. I don’t know, I can’t speak exactly. But you know, the fuel that I’ll use on Sunday cost me six euros a litre. The fuel that I use tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday and the rest of the year, I can’t say the number, but it is way more way more expensive. So I don’t think that costs in this regard is really stopping us. It’s maybe more things like, which is a bit tiring at times, but getting people together and everybody to agree. But then again, I would urge to look at the bigger picture and it would be great to see these fuels coming in sooner. So I don’t see a reason why not.
Q: Zhou, we’ll start with you. Your best result in Formula 1 in Canada, P8. Just how satisfied are you with the progress that you’ve been making in recent races?
Zhou GUANYU: Yeah, I’ve always said that the progress I’ve been making was quite clear and obviously we just need to convert it on Sunday’s results so yeah, it was the first time we finally were able to finish, when we had a decent chance, and yeah, I was very happy obviously for the whole team. Finally, we get both cars finishing in the points also from my side that was a pretty strong race, with some frustrating moment, because I got stuck in the DRS train. But finally, to have my best finish in Formula 1 is obviously a good step up. Maybe this luck or bad luck has been changed. And we you know, we’ll keep working from now onwards and we’re in a like, good rhythm and with a lot of potential going forward
Q: And how much potential this weekend?
ZG: I mean, obviously love coming to Silverstone. It’s kind of like my second home in a way, because I’ve been spending all my life in junior single seaters based in the UK. I’ve always felt pretty at home here. The track I really like and did well here in F2 last year. So hopefully, you know, with the knowledge, I know the circuit, it’s not a new track. So maybe I can be starting another step ahead since so we can be fighting, and be strong with both cars again. I think the target is always the same – fighting for the points finishing the race. And I think we have a lot of potential to do that. So you’re looking forward to a good weekend or a busy weekend ahead.
Q: Certainly busy. Best of luck with that. Thank you. Nicholas, coming to you now. Belated happy birthday for yesterday. I hope you had a good day. Can we talk about performance at Williams. Running two different specs of car this weekend? How much of a step up are we expecting from the upgrades that are actually going to be on your team-mate’s car?
Nicholas LATIFI: I guess time will tell. We’ll find out more on Saturday and Sunday to be honest. It’s probably a bit early to put a proper number to it. We’ve been given a very, let’s say, broad range and potential time. So we just really have to see what it’s going to bring. I mean it is a sizable difference visually. The two cars will look different. I’m obviously… Even though it’s not on my car, I’m hopeful that it’s going to be quite a big difference. And yeah, I think in a few races I’m supposed to get it. It won’t be the next race either, which is obviously a little bit frustrating from a driving side of things but I’m going to be watching with a keen eye to see what it brings to the other car and hopefully if there’s a relative closure in performance to the next gap of cars because I know there’s a few other cars here as well bringing some upgrades, so yeah, we’ll have to wait and see.
Q: How was it decided who got the new bits?
NL: Championship position! Yeah, I think it’s a fairly standard thing when upgrades are available only for one car. So I’m not surprised that the upgrades on his car. Obviously just from my side I would have liked there to be two sets of upgrades, especially as it’s obviously been our first upgrade of the season, which from where we started it has obviously felt like quite a long time because you know, it was clear we were not where we want it to be performance wise, so we were just patiently waiting, patiently waiting. So you know, for sure. It would have been nice to have two sets but yeah, just to be a bit more patient on my side.
Q: Best of luck this weekend. Thank you Nicholas. Charles, coming to you now. You’ve always gone well at Silverstone – third, third, second, your last three results. The track just seems to suit your style. Do you enjoy this weekend?
Charles LECLERC: Yeah, I love it here. I love the track. I love fast corners in general. So I’m really looking forward to this weekend. This year we’ve got a bit more of a competitive car compared to the last times we came here, so hopefully we can have a clean weekend finally, because since Miami it’s not been great. So hopefully we can get back on track and get back a win.
Q: Well, what does getting back on track mean, because you haven’t won a race for seven races, since the Australian Grand Prix. How much does your championship challenge need victory here at Silverstone?
CL: It’s obviously important. I think the next four races will be very important, just before the summer break, to go in holidays with four good races would be great. So now we need to focus on ourself. I think the performance is there. If we’ve got clean weekends, I’m pretty sure the results will follow. But again, we just need to focus on ourself and then the results will come.
Q: Lewis coming to you. After all the negativity this week, what an apposite moment to announce the first grants of the Ignite Partnership, which you set up with Mercedes a year ago. Please tell us more.
Lewis HAMILTON: Yeah, well, hi, everyone, it’s good to see everybody. Very proud of the work that we are doing as a team. Basically, when I sat down with Toto a year ago I said that I don’t want to just be a driver for the team anymore, I feel it’s important that we start looking to what we’re doing both inside, but also outside of the sport. And so part of the contract was commitment from them and commitment from myself financially to put into Ignite, and to work on how… With the work that I did with the Hamilton Commission, working on seeing how we can get more young girls involved in our sport, and just working on how we can, for example, one of the things that we’re working on is having 10 Black students given scholarships for motorsport. And not only that, once they graduate, have a role, either with us in our team, but also within the sport. And I think we’re just living in a time where there’s been a lot of people that have said they’re supportive through these last couple of years, but a lot of [it is] lip service, and we are not doing that. We’re actually about action. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. So yeah, I’m really proud. I think we need to get everyone naturally on board to do something because we can’t do it alone.
Q: Many congratulations, Lewis on that. And just in terms of performance, what are you expecting from the upgraded W13 this weekend?
LH: It is always nice having upgrades. The amount of incredible work that goes on in the background is quite overwhelming. And it’s phenomenal to see just everyone with their heads down, staying focused and delivering. And it’s always a big push to bring these components to a race, particularly under the circumstances we’re all faced with this year, in terms of the cost cap, for example. So I’m very proud of everyone, very grateful for everyone’s incredible hard work and I hope that it reflects when we put it on the track because earlier on in the year, for example, we did put an upgrade on and weren’t able to extract it all. So, I hope that that’s different this time.
Q: Okay, thank you. And Pierre coming to you. Confirmed as an AlphaTauri driver in 2023. What do you think you can achieve with your team over the next 18 months?
Pierre GASLY: Well, yeah, that’s… Obviously, really happy that everything is sorted and has been announced. So there’s no more speculation about my future and I know where to stand for the next 18 months. I got my first opportunity in Formula 1 thanks to Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Got my first race win in F1 with them. And yeah, that’s still the target, you know. We still have the next 18 months together to achieve as many podiums as we can. Why not another race win if we get the performance and if that’s achievable. But I’m excited for what’s coming with the team, and we’ll see what happens.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Lewis, good to see you here today. It’s been it’s been a difficult week once again for you, and I’m sure not for the first time in your life. It’s been great to see the whole paddock come out in support of yourself and against the comments by Nelson Piquet. He has apologized. Is that the end of the matter now, or would you like to see further action taken, and how do you feel about that apology?
LH: What are you doing here? You’re never in this room.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) We’re allowed now. Honestly, it’s not just because you’re here today. And I’ve missed you all these years.
LH: Okay. All right. Back to the serious question. So what was the question exactly? Is it over? Firstly, I’m incredibly grateful to all those that have been supportive within the sport, particularly the drivers, you know. It’s been two years since we, many of us took the knee at the first race in Austria. And, of course, we’re still faced with the challenges. I mean, I’ve been on the receiving end of racism and criticism and that negativity in archaic narratives for a long, long time, you know, and undertones of discrimination. So, there’s nothing really particularly new for me. I think it’s more about the bigger picture. I mean, I’m not really sure… I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform. Because they’re speaking on our sport, and we’re looking to go somewhere completely different, and it’s not representative, I think, of who we are as a sport now and where are we planning to go? If we’re looking to be to grow in the US and other countries, South Africa, and grow our audience, we need to be looking to the future and giving the young younger people a platform that is more representative of today’s time, and to who we are trying to be and the direction that we’re going. So it’s not just about one individual. It’s not about just that one use of that term. It’s the bigger picture.
Q: (Craig Slater – Sky Sports News) Just picking up on that with you Lewis if I can. Are you happy the statements from the FIA and F1 were strong enough a response? And given you have suffered this kind of thing throughout your career, even five years ago might it not have been called out, this kind of thing? And is that some kind of progress?
LH: I mean, it’s now a knee-jerk reaction really, from companies all around the world, when something like this happens, they probably already have… I’m not saying that we do, but I’m just saying, you’ve got to imagine that everyone’s PR agency or PR people, have already a script ready for something like that, crisis management. It’s not enough. Now it’s about actual real action. We’ve got to actually start acting and as I said, it just comes back down to… I put to F1, to the media, we should not be giving these people a platform. These old voices are… whether they subconsciously or consciously do not agree that people like me, for example, should be in a sport like this, do not agree that women should be here. Discrimination is not something we should be projecting and promoting and giving a platform to create and divide people… We need more than ever… We’re living in such a difficult time in the world, we need people to be bringing people together. You know, we are all the same. And it is not helpful, the comments that we’re seeing from these people. The last couple of weeks, I don’t think a day’s gone by where there’s not been someone from some of the older [people] that have not really been in our sport or relevant in our sport for decades, trying to say negative things and trying to bring me down, but I’m still here, I’m still standing strong and I’m focused on my work, and really trying to push for diversity, inclusion within our organization. We really need F1 and all the teams that have committed to signing this F1 charter that I’ve done that work with the Hamilton Commission, to work and also to put funds towards D&I. It’s not good enough just saying we are also focused on it and just lip service. We really need to push for action and that’s why I’m proud of the first step we’ve done with Ignite and that’s not the end of it, that’s just the beginning. I’ve got Mission 44 up and running. I’ve got a whole team of people there to really focus on it. I’ve got my own money in that and I’m out trying to raise money also to try and really push this… I’ve got partnerships with Sky. There’s a lot of great work that’s happening, but we need more and I can’t do it alone.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – RacingNews365.com) Lewis, your Hamilton Commission and the Ignite initiative announced today, without in any way being at all critical, they’re both aimed at basically British citizens. Equally, the Formula 1 project announced last year is also British and some European, yet ironically, those are the two regions where it’s easiest for fans to get into Formula 1 as a profession, as a driver, engineer, whatever. Should these not spread beyond these European boundaries and go out to 90% of the rest of the world?
LH: Thank you for that question and yes. But ultimately, I couldn’t do the research, when I did the Hamilton Commission, I couldn’t do it for every country and the goal is to expand the work, particularly with Mission 44, expand across Europe and into the States but that’s going to take a little bit longer. So initially, the focus was on the UK. Obviously, motor sport is huge here and that’s where I’m from, so that’s the first target but I would like it to go across the water. But there are different challenges in different countries, right, but there’s so much opportunity for growth, there’s so much opportunity all over for improvement. So, yes, I would definitely like to take those steps and I plan to do that with Mission 44, it’s just trying to get underway because it takes time to change, right? It takes time to see growth and improvement. So I’ve got a whole team now that I’m working with, a lot of my time is spent on Zoom calls, just working on the agreements that we came up with the Hamilton Commission and how we can implement them, different organisations that are already on the ground, in underserved communities, and how we can support them more. And there’s a lot of great work that’s being done, a lot of them are underfunded and we need more funding, always, as you know, so yeah, I’m committed to that.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Lewis, I apologize for taking the conversation away from much more serious matters, but amongst all the controversies that have been bubbling around there is the subject of jewelry. I just wondered if you could update us on where you are with the FIA on that, and whether it’s business as usual this weekend, regarding your piercings and other jewelry in the cockpit?
LH: With all due respect, it’s kind of crazy to think that, with everything that’s going on in the world, that is a focus for people. And I would say it’s worrying that we’ve got so much bigger fish to fry… I use fish to fry because… I’m vegan, so we don’t fry fish, but you know what I mean. But, yes, we’ve got we’ve really got to start focusing on other more important areas. I will be racing this weekend, I will be working with the FIA. I would say the matter is not particularly massively important. So, I will work with Mohammed and with his team so that we can progress forwards.
Q: (Andy Dunn – Daily Mirror) Lewis, you mentioned the older voices and you mentioned, say, the past two weeks we’ve had obviously the stuff that Bernie Ecclestone said today, Nelson Piquet, even Sir Jackie Stewart, of course, was saying it was time you retired. These presumably were guys that you once had a lot of respect for Has that respect gone now?
LH: Well, I’ve always tried to take the high road and I’ve always tried to be respectful to these individuals. And again, just going back, I think it ties back to what I was saying before, just why do we give these guys a platform? They’re not with the times, they’re clearly not willing to change. And these undertones of discrimination and microaggressions are just in today’s world are just not helpful and just creative more divide than not. I love how Michelle Obama says when they go low, we go high. So I try to continue to do that. I’m inspired by people like that. And that’s not… as I said, I’m still here. It’s not going to deter me from doing what I think is right and doing what I love, which is working in the sport.
Q: (Claire Cottingham – Racefans.net) Lewis, another question for you. I just wondered how we work to get more people included, you know, diversity-wise, if they are to face such hate when they come in and obviously as a woman, I get quite a lot as well and there’s plenty of people out there. How do we get more people to be involved if this is what we face?
LH: Well, not to sound like a broken record, but I think it is, again, just accountability is important. And it’s just with F1. And also with your companies, you know, it’s really making sure we take a stand and we’re not giving these people that platform. And we want people to be able to… inclusivity is so important. We want people to be able to be themselves in our space and it’s all well and good standing on the grid, and they talk about all the inclusivity, and all the other four or five things, I would say but they’re just empty words, if we’re not actually putting action in. This is a growing business, there’s more money, teams are making more money than they’ve ever made before. And they’ll continue to grow in doing so. But we get to see real funds from… I mean, I’m not aware of all the other funds that have been put towards D&I, but I’d be willing to bet it’s not as much as we firstly already put in and are planning to put in. And as I said, I’ve been on calls with all the F1 teams who all agreed to be a part of this F1 charter and it’s still not signed and it’s still not underway. But no more can we be amplifying these voices that are just creating that divide out there. We’ve got people high up in governments that are just creating more and more divide. America’s just gone back 50 years, you know, and with everything that’s happened here in the UK we’ve gone backwards, and people are really struggling out there so we’ve all got to pull together.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis I know earlier on you mentioned about the older voices being given a platform but this week Red Bull sacked their reserve driver who’s in his early 20s for using a racist term. So do you think that’s a coincidence? Or do you think that Formula 1 actually has a racism problem?
LH: I think we are living still within the world, there’s still discrimination throughout the world so it’s still clearly all around us. You see it on social, you see it, again, these microaggressions that continue to come out and enough is enough. As I said, I’ve tried to take that higher road and avoid it, but no one should have to brush off racism and it shouldn’t be for me to have to brush it off. So we need to know we need organizations, big organizations to take a stand.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) A couple of questions: Lewis, just wondering if you could talk us through the examples that you get on a daily basis of the racism put at your door through social media and whatnot? To all the other drivers, you’ve heard Lewis there say that he’s encouraging teams to sign the charter; will you be putting pressure on your team bosses to get that charter signed? And Zhou, just wondered if you experienced any racism yourself that you can talk about, please?
LH: Specific examples? So many of us have… you know, even Nicholas has experienced that abuse on social media, which is not a great space. There’s a lot of negativity and hate through there but I try not to give that stuff attention. So in general, it’s like anything, it’s a small group of people, I’d say that, I guess, are ultimately ignorant and it’s time for us to commit to learning and improving. But as you know, and going back to just… it’s been kind of overwhelming to see the great support that I’ve had from my fellow colleagues here. And some of the teams and the sport. And it’s… we’ve already seen it, last year, I think after this race, you saw the stuff that was online, and how that the sport did react. But now, that’s not enough, we’ve got to do more. Also, with the social media platforms, we need to start putting on them. They still haven’t done enough, when we were calling out for them to make changes.
Q: Pierre, will you be putting pressure on AlphaTauri to sign the charter?
PG: Obviously, that’s obvious to me because we got to be united in a fight and Lewis is the biggest ambassador we have in our sport and it needs to go beyond our sport. I think just in the society of today we need to set an example to all the people out there and yeah, that’s obvious. I’ll push my team and I’ll do anything that’s possible within our organisation, all of us as drivers, GPDA, anything that’s possible, we need to set example and we cannot let these things happen.
CL: Yeah, I completely agree. I think we need to be all in this together and try and help the people that probably doesn’t have a voice, to try and help them in this difficult moment and I think as Formula 1, as such a big sport like Lewis said, it’s expanding every year, we need to be all united and fight this fight together.
NL: Yeah, I fully agree with Pierre and Charles and what they said. Me personally, I’m not 100% aware of why it hasn’t been signed yet. So yeah, maybe that’s something that I could inquire about with my team, particularly. But yeah, I think we’re all sitting here on the same page about what is still wrong in this world and in this day and age. Me personally, I do what I can to support that and I think it’s as the guys were saying, us, as big a sport as we are and now it’s growing at an astronomical level, we have to do what we can to use our platforms, sports platform, the drivers’ individual platforms, as well, because we do have a very big reach and anything we can to spread the positive message is needed.
ZG: Yeah, from my side, obviously, I agree with everyone. I think as Formula 1, we all try to stay united together on track, on the paddock, and to think, you know, the way how the world is growing, how more people using social media, of course, is… you get more trouble also, like, from my side, you know, I got a perfect example, experience that once I signed the contract last year, and obviously there’s quite a lot negativities, racist comments, which, you know, it never should happen in any part of sports or in the world in general. And it’s not just for us, you know, we’re… as a driver, also Lewis, you know, we’re trying to help the world going forward and it’s not just for us, it’s for the younger generation to set a better example for them. So I think everybody’s should really stay united, equally doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, what job you’re doing. And yeah, that’s the way we’re trying to build up for this platform in Formula 1.
Q: (Marco Santini – Funoanalisitecnica.com) Charles, in Montreal you started from the back of the grid because of the penalties for a new power unit. I just wanted to know if this will allow you to push to the limit in the next few races, or if the power unit management will still be the key?
CL: Well obviously we are not in the best situation with what happened in the last two races. We are always pushing to the limit at the end, that’s what we need to do if we want to win this championship. So on that I’m pretty sure that the team will push 100%, I will push 100% and everybody is extremely motivated to basically have a bit of cleaner races to then get the rhythm and to get back the points that we’ve lost in the last few races.
Q: (Simon Abberley – Nevis Radio) Charles, following on from the previous question, Mattia stated not long ago saying that the team isn’t quite ready for a championship but the car has obviously been at the front of the grid. You’ve said you want to go for a championship? Is this a case of you are or you aren’t, or is it building or where is it at, because it’s a bit painful for a lot of red fans, I think, watching.
CL: I didn’t completely get the middle part but overall, yeah, again, it’s been a tough time for the team but I think the way we have worked since the beginning of the season has been extremely good. So this we don’t have to change. Then of course, there has been some reliability problems that we need to fix as quickly as possible and on that, again, I trust fully the team to get on top of these things as quickly as it can be done. It will take time but in the meantime, we just need to focus on the job we have to do on the track and I’m again very confident that if we do everything perfect on track, we have the car and we have the people inside the team for us to win races and to win the championship because ultimately that’s the goal. So in the last four or five races, it became much more difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And I still believe in it as much as I did five races ago. It’s going to be more difficult, but anything is possible.
Q: (Oliver Brown – The Telegraph) Just a couple of points to Lewis. I just wanted… with all the remarks that there have been since the last race whether from Bernie Ecclestone or from Nelson Piquet, you’ve reached the point where you’ve kind of had it with the old establishment. And secondly, you say that we shouldn’t be giving them a platform but how, practically, do you do that? I mean, Bernie Ecclestone ran the sport for decades and he’s not somebody who can easily be censored.
LH: What I said earlier on, I think enough is enough, and that’s why we have to really push for action. But I mean, this is the question I put to you guys: why? Why give the… I mean, I think this was, what was it… Good Morning… BBC…? [Correction: ITV’s Good Morning Britain]. I mean, there needs to be some accountability. You know what you’re going to get with that and I don’t know what their goal is, if they were seeking to create divide, here in the UK, we don’t need any more of it. To hear from someone that ultimately believes in the war, the displacement of millions of people, in the killing of thousands of people, the person that’s doing that, they support them? I mean, that’s beyond me. And I can’t believe that’s what I heard today. And ultimately, it’s disappointing. It’s affecting not only all those people out there, but it’s affecting all the countries around the world, and it’s affecting people here in the UK. And it’s going to continue to affect us for… this is going to put us back decades, I think. But we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain that it’s going to cause the world. So why? We don’t need to be supporting that anymore. We’ve got to be looking to the future. We need more positivity in the world and there are plenty of people out there that are positive and if you’ve got nothing positive to contribute to where we want to be going and who we want to be, don’t give them the space.