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Monaco GP: FIA Wednesday Press Conference

By FIA
May 24 2018

 
 FIA Wednesday Press Conference
 

DRIVERS Ė Charles LECLERC (Sauber), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Romain GROSJEAN (Haas)

PRESS CONFERENCE

Charles, if we can start with you: youíre the home town hero and the first Monegasque to race here in Formula 1 since Olivier Beretta in 1994. How excited are you about the weekend ahead?

Charles LECLERC: I am very excited. I mean, I have been waiting for this moment since [I was a] child. I remember watching the grand prix when I was four years old, in the exit of the first corner. I was in my best friendís apartment, watching down the Formula 1, dreaming one day of being part of it and this day has finally happened, so I definitely canít wait to be driving tomorrow here.

Which part of Monaco are you from?

CL: Iím living on the start-finish line, so pretty close to the track.

And what can we expect from you this weekend? Youíve had points in consecutive races. Just how good is the car and what can you do?

CL: To be honest, Iím a little bit confused with my expectations at the moment, because we expected a very difficult weekend in Barcelona and actually we had a second Q2 in a row, with one point then in the race. So, Baku, we expected to be competitive and of course there has been quite a bit of crashes in the race and we managed to have a good position thanks to that also, but in Barcelona we did not expect that type of performance, so it was definitely good to see that and it was a nice surprise. Hopefully we are also wrong on expectations here. It seems that it might be a little bit of a difficult circuit for us here because we need high downforce and this is a little bit of our weakness at the moment but weíll work on that and hopefully we can get a good result.

Thank you. Romain, clearly youíve had a rough start to 2018 and Spain was another example of that. Can you just give us some insight into where youíre at the moment, what youíre thinking, what you feel you need to do break this run of bad luck?

Romain GROSJEAN: I think youíre making a bit bigger a mountain our of a moleÖ thing, I canít remember the saying. Yeah, the last two races didnít go quite to plan. It happens that sometimes you go through tough times. What happened in Barcelona was just unfortunate that I lost the rear end avoiding a contact with my team-mate and that was it. The performance is there, the car is doing great and the team is doing an amazing job. Yeah, we donít have any points on the board but Iím not too worried.

Tell us a little bit more about the car. Do you feel it suits your driving style as well as you team-mateís for example?

RG: I think itís getting better and better. Weíve been qualifying, very often, in front of the midfield. Itís super tight, so a tenth or two of a second, which doesnít make much different on the first few rows can lose you two or three positions. You need to get it perfect. I think itís getting there; weíre working well, and I think it should be quite nice here and hopefully the next updates coming are going to be pretty competitive.

Best of luck. Thank you Romain. Lewis, we heard from Charles how excited he is to be racing in Monaco. Youíve won here a couple of times, youíve been on pole position, can you just start by giving us an insight into what it is like to race around these tight streets, how crazy it is, how unique this track is?

Lewis HAMILTON: Well firstly I feel like the people who might be watching need to understand why we all had our glasses on. Itís so bright. These lights areÖ when I look at you now, all I see are lights, I canít actually see your face. Thatís why Iíve got these on; itís too bright. But, yeah, Monaco, itís such a dream to drive here. Every single yearÖ Iím very fortunate to live here, but the wait you have from one year to the nextÖ itís a shame that we only have one race here, because itís that spectacular to drive. But itís very intense. You have to be more diligent then your perhaps have to be anywhere else. Itís the most technical and mentally challenging circuit of the whole season. Thereís also the heightened aspect of just wanting to shine at a track like this. Sometimes Iím running around or driving around this city in the off-season and itís hard to believe the speeds that we do Ė up the hill and to Turn 1 and out of the tunnelÖ Just yesterday I was running through the tunnel and telling my friend who has never been before and saying Ďusually weíre doing 200mph out of this tunnelí, and he was like Ďthatís crazyí. It's hard for people to get even close to the imagination of what itís like, but itís really something quite special.

Youíve won the last two races, youíre on a roll, but what can we expect from you and Mercedes this weekend, because it wasnít a good race for the team last year, so are you confident that youíve ironed out the issues with this yearís car?

LH: I think we learned a lot from last year. I think we are confident with our preparation. I think itís definitely been better than ever before. We came from the last race knowing that this is going to be one of the tougher races for us. If you look at the last race and the testing in February and then even in the tests the other day, the Red Bulls were particularly quick in the last sector Ė thatís where theyíre always very, very strong Ė and so you can imagine that they will be incredibly quick here this weekend. Which is actually a surprise on previous years, because Ferrari were very strong here last year and for whatever reason Red Bull didnít get it together, but maybe this weekend they will. I do anticipate itís going to be a difficult weekend. Not one that is impossible but itís a lot closer and we may not have the pace of the others but we will find out tomorrow the true pace and identity of what we arrive here with. But Iím excited for that challenge either way. If you look at last year there were overcuts and undercuts, so everything is still possible.

Thank you. Sebastian, thanks for waiting. Can we just reflect on two weeks ago to start with. It was a slightly frustrating weekend for you in Spain. Youíve tested at Barcelona since the race. How much progress did you make with the car?

Sebastian VETTEL: I think itís fair to summarise that Barcelona was not a strong race for us. I think Saturday was actually pretty good, qualifying was very close, but in the race we fell a little bit behind. It was good that we had the opportunity on Tuesday and Wednesday to get into the race situation again and understand a little bit better with more time and more laps and I think thatís what we did. There are a couple of ideas that we have and there are things that we believe may have cause a weak race or weak pace during the race. But for here itís not that relevant as itís a completely different track, but certainly going forward, time will tell whether we found a good direction.

Well, letís look at this weekend. What chance a repeat victory of last year and do you think the longer wheelbase of this yearís car will have any impact on the performance?

SV: I donít know. We will see. I think cars with a longer wheelbase, they were still fine here last year. Itís not that much different. Itís not like all of a sudden youíre sitting on a bus. I think the car, weíve improved it in general this year throughout the races weíve had, the feel that Iíve had for the car, how responsive it was etc, which should help us for here, but I donít think the wheelbase will play a big difference and if so I think our car is not longer than most of the other cars so it will be fine.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Livio Oricchio Ė Globoesporte.com) To all drivers. Pirelli are supplying here for the first time the hypersoft tyres. What do you project for the weekend here Ė would be very interesting?

CL: Yeah, weíve had the possibility to try these tyres quite a few times during testing. Itís a huge jump from the ultrasoft to hypersoft, a lot bigger than any of the other steps Ė but itís also quite a solid tyre. I think we will test it during these free practices and then see what to do for the race.

Sebastian, anything to add on the hypersoft?

SV: Well, I think we never had it this year, obviously, during races. Testing was cold Ė but I think the first glimpse we got last year during the Abu Dhabi test quite interesting. It was faster Ė so itís always fun when itís faster. I think it doesnít last that long but the stress around Monaco is very low for the tyres, if you compare it to a normal race track. So should be fine and should be faster, so thatís why I think a lot of people went mostly for the hypersoft.

Lewis, do you think we could see some records fall this weekend?

LH: I would imagine so, yeah. Theyíre resurfaced some areas of the track. It was already very, very grippy last year and I think the hypersoft isÖ Iíve only driven it, I think it was the end of last year maybe, in Abu Dhabi, just one quick run on it, so I donít really know much about it, so Iím excited to get back out on the tyre because I know at that time it felt great after lap whatever-it-was. So, I think around here itíll hopefully be a lot better than all of the other tyres that weíve run.

Romain?

RG: Yeah, I tested them in last weekís Barcelona testing and they were fast, and I was surprised at how consistent they could be on some occasions. Looking forward to trying them here Ė but definitely theyíre the tyres that give the best feeling.

Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) Lewis, you talked a little bit about the difficulties youíre expecting here. And the change in process in Spain and how well the test was working. In terms of how transferrable that performance set was in Barcelona for here and at other races, how confident are you that youíve made a fundamental gain, either in the setup of the way youíre understanding the car?

LH: I feel with the last race, the whole weekend, yeah I think we took a lot of information from there. The whole first five races I think, weíve learnt a huge amount, we know what our targets are, we much more understand our issues and weíre working hard to address them Ė and I think weíre working in the right direction towards addressing them. I definitely feel more confident moving forward that we are progressing in the right direction. Have we rectified everything? Weíll find out. It just feels good, that thereís a lot of work been going on: a lot of stress; a lot of strain within everyoneís work. Everyone just trying to do their best and get us up front. Obviously our competition has been very, very strong through the first five races Ė but it is up and down from race to race. But I do think the first five races are always a reallyÖ itís always very difficult because itís just a learning curve. A very steep learning curve every year, even though we have that winter test. I canít tell you whatís going to happen moving forwards but Iím confident that weíre going to do the best job that we can to maximise our results.

Q: (Giles Richards Ė The Guardian) A question for all four drivers, two parts. The organisers here have said theyíre going to use grid girls this weekend. So, first of all Iíd like to know where all four of you stand on the original decision to stop using grid girls and what you think about this raceís decision to go against that and use them this weekend?

RG: WellÖ yeah. Itís busy on the grid anyway, you wonít see much difference. When it was removed, I thought it was a good thing for women in the 21st Century because they were not used as just a board holder. Monaco, always special why not doing something different?

Lewis?

LH: I don't know. I think women are the most beautiful thing in the world, so, I mean thereís races where weíve had guys standing at the front of the car, and thereís been a mixture sometimes at races in the past. I think Monaco is a very elegant grand prix and I donít know how women feel about it. Iíve not really ever spoken to women how they feel about the whole situation. So I canít really comment. I donít particularly feel any way about it. When we pull up to the grid and thereís beautiful women on the grid, thatís the Monaco Grand Prix, thatís a lovely thing Ė but I definitely donít think that we should ever be supporting or pushing these women in general to feel uncomfortable. And if they are, then we shouldnít do it, if theyíre comfortable doing it, I mean I donít really know, I donít really have an answer for you otherwise.

Sebastian?

SV: Well, I think the whole thing has been blown up, probably unnecessary because I donít think any of the grid girls in the past were forced to do it. So, I think they enjoyed what they were doing. I agree with Lewis, I like women, I think they look beautiful, so if there was guys, I was just not interested, nothing against those guys but I just didnít care as much but, bottom line, I think itís too much of a fuss nowadays. I think all the women that took part as a grid girl in the past did it because they want to. Iím sure if you ask any grid girl on Sunday if theyíre happy to stand there, their answer will be yes. I donít think thereís anybody that forces them to do it. So, it speaks a little bit for our times that sometimes thereís a lot of noise for nothing.

Charles?

CL: Pretty similar opinion to Seb Ė but I think it was quite positive to have some girls on the grid to be honest Ė even though I have a girlfriend so I should not say that maybe, I will get in trouble. But yeah, itís also good to have some kids. Monaco is very small, so they took also my little cousin that will be on the grid with me. So that will be nice, and Iíve seen how happy he was to be chosen as one of the kids Ė and itís great to see that. And itís a great idea to have kids on the grid also.

Q: (Craig Slater Ė Sky Sports News) A question for Lewis. A bit related to that. It was obviously a great time of celebration in Britain last weekend. I wonder what you made of the royal wedding Ė and if the British royal family can become a bit more diverse, does it give you optimism that Formula One can become more diverse eventually?

LH: I donít really connect the two, to be honest but I watched here at the weekend, just with a smile on my face the whole time. I think it was great to see such a positive change. It was great to see how happy they both were, and I think it was just a really proud day, I think forÖ for me, for my family, I think for the world. And itís just always great to see positivity and change. The fact that you do have diversity in the royal family today, I think thatís a huge thing. People probably donít even realise how important that is. Even to see at the church, you had a mixture with the ministers, in music, with the choir. It was just really, really beautiful to see. I just had the greatest weekend ever just sitting there watching and seeing talented people play music, speak and then see this power couple walk out. It was the greatest wedding that Iíve ever seen Ė and Iím not big on weddings at all. I avoid them at all costs Ė but this one, I wished I was in England to see it. Plus, England on a sunny day, itís just so beautiful, with the castle and everything. So, I mean it was pretty much a fairytale. I think every kid Ė and adult today thatís particularly not married Ė dreams of having that kind of weekend.

Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) Seb and Lewis, Charles is up there with you. He comes into F1 this season with a huge amount of expectation and hype, based on his performance in junior formulae. You had exactly the same, the two of you, when you came into F1 first time around. What would your advice be to him about how to handle that pressure of expectation and what do you know and think of him as a driver?

SV: I think I was never that hyped when I came in. I didnít win GP2 and I think the hype is absolutely justified. If thereís no hype around him, then I donít understand who should be hyped because you walk through all the categories like that, then you belong here. But I think the advice to him is not to listen, just get on with it and just enjoy it. I think the cars that weíre driving are the fastest cars in the world and thatís what you should be looking for, not all the noise that sometimes happens around. I think itís important that youíre here, you know why you want to be here. You look at whatís really important to you. The rest is not that much of your concern.

Q: Do you expect him to be your Ferrari teammate in the coming season?

SV: Well, I donít know. Iím not signing who is sitting next to me but (you should) probably ask Maurizio. Yeah, I donít see why not. Obviously he has more years than all of us here if you look at the passport. I think the races heís had so far, he used his opportunities, he scored points with a car that doesnít belong in the points so heís doing everything he can at the moment.

CL: Thank you.

LH: Charles, are you from Monaco?

CL: Yes, I am.

LH: OK, so you grew up here. Iíve watched the series, Iíve been watching him coming through and what heís done in the last couple of years has been great to see. I sit with the team bosses and engineers and we watch the lower categories and always looking out for that shining talent to come through and ultimately Formula One is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport, which it is, but itís supposed to have the best drivers from around the world and in all honesty, you couldnít say that thereís the best drivers Ė the 100 per cent best drivers Ė from all the nations around the world so itís just really great to see a really talented kid come through, thatís really just earned his way, like he really has the potential to do great things here and you canít say that about every kid thatís come through in the past years and ultimately itís very very difficult because itís such an expensive sport. So you donít always have the most talented that have the money but itís great to see a real talented kid come through so I wish him all the best and the most important thing is to try and keep your feet on the ground, keep your family close and just enjoy the ride. Donít take it too seriously. Every experience ahead is going to be a learning curve, good or bad, but thatís going to be a part of the making of who you are. I donít really need to say much more.

CL: Thank you.

Q: (Jon McEvoy Ė Daily Mail) Sebastian, Lewis hasnít yet signed his new deal, though Mercedes say that he probably will. But would you welcome him at Ferrari at all next year?

SV: I donít know. He hasnít asked me!

LH: He has a veto so that wouldnít happen.

SV: I donít. I wouldnít mind. Obviously, to be completely honest, Iím very happy with the relationship I have with Kimi.

LH: I think we have a better relationship, do you not think?

SV: I donít know. Maybe if we get closer. I donít know. Plus, we just spoke about Charles. I donít know, you never know what happens. Iím pretty sure that Lewisís priority lies with Mercedes. Everything else would be a big surprise but you never know, so we will see. Maybe, one day, I donít know, we will both go somewhere else because weíre old orÖ I donít know. Never say never. For me, at the moment, it doesnít really matter, Iím very happy to be where I am for the time that everyone knows. I know and then we will see what happens.

Q: (Phil Duncan Ė PA) Lewis, we often hear about drivers who want to go up and race against you. Would you want to race Sebastian, be in his team?

LH: Iím down to race with whoever. Ultimately, I mean Iím racing against him in a pretty competitive car which is always exciting but I think for any driver you always want to go up against the best. I think youíve seen in history that it can often be difficult when there are two incredibly strong alphas within a team but youíve seen that it seems to kind of work with him and Kimi, but then if you really look atÖ you can honestly say that Kimi canít be too happy because there are certain scenarios that donít necessarily work out for him, so itís just always difficult but I love racing against the best of drivers because it really pushes you to the limit. Racing against Fernando, racing against Jenson, and some of the top drivers that I raced with has just beenÖ it brings the good and bad out of you, it pushes you to the limit but I feel that the set-up, for example, that I have right now within the teamÖ Valtteri is driving exceptionally well, pushing me to the limit, and Iím still getting that but thereís a great harmony within the team and thereís a respect when one of the drivers does better than the other and itís not necessarily always the same when itís different characters, so itís really dependent on the characters youíre with. But I donít anticipate that we will probably be driving together in our time, unless we do, like, Le Mans together one day which we should probably just murder, wouldnít we?

Q: (Ben Hunt Ė The Sun) Lewis, just about that contract: how come it isnít signed yet? I think the team were quite keen to get it done. Could you tell us what the sticking point seems to be?

LH: There isnít any sticking points. There just hasnít been any rush. I told you at the beginning thereís no rush to do it and I would do it in my own time. Thereís no discussion with anybody else, thereís no consideration for anybody else, itís just taking my time. I just donít see any need to rush. I still have a contract in place, Iím enjoying racing, itís nice to keep you guys guessing whatís happening. Thereís not really much more to say really. Thereís not really much more to say. Itís a great process that you go through with a contract but I just tell my people thereís no rush. If itís not ready this week, and itís not ready the week after, itís not readyÖ no stress. Iím not going to stress about it. Yuh.

 

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