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Abu Dhabi GP: FIA Race Press Conference

November 26 2018

 FIA Race Press Conference

1 Ė Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 - Sebastian Vettel ( Ferrari )
3 Ė Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)


(Conducted by David Coulthard)

Q: Lewis, incredible end to the season.

Lewis HAMILTON: Iím so happy right now. Thank you guys so much for all the support this year.

Q: Actually, Seb, stay here, stay here. You guys have made this season epic. So, a little words; we donít often get to hear you talking together. How much has it meant to be battling out there wheel-to-wheel?

LH : Itís been a real honour and a privilege racing against Sebastian. Iíve known him since Formula 3 days and heís always been an honest, hard-working racing driver and he has always raced his heart out. He did a fantastic job this whole season. Thereís so much pressure on us all, so donít every look at our shortcomings as anything less than us giving our best and Sebastian did. I know next year heís going to come back strong, so Iíve got to make sure I come back with him, but Iím really grateful for the time.

Q: Seb, for you, racing wheel-to-wheel with Lewis?

Sebastian VETTEL: Well heís the champion and he deserves to be the champion. Yeah, itís been a tough year. I tried everything until the last lap, also today, I really enjoyed. Catching a little bit, a little bit, but I think he controlled the pace at the front. I would have liked it to be a little more wheel-to-wheel but yeah, a long year, a lot of races. Congrats, and as he said I will try, we will try, I think our whole team will try to come back stronger to make sure we give him a harder run into next year. But the final word: I think also well done to Fernando. I think the last years have been very tough for him, weíve been missing him and we will miss him, so well done on his career.

Q: Maybe the three of you all together, because this is multiple world championships between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando. Fernando, we wish you well in your retirement. Youíll be coming back to visit Formula 1 though?

Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, as long as Iím not commentating, you know like some of the ex-Formula 1 drivers! But yeah, it has been a pleasure racing with these champions. I feel very privileged, with you too obviously. Thanks for everything. Thanks Formula 1. I will always be a fan of this show.

Q: OK, Fernando, youíve been a true legend, enjoy the journey home. Lewis, you won the race, itís been an incredible season, but there was a slightly uncomfortable moment there where you pitted on lap six, you came out in traffic. We heard you on the radio saying Ďhey guys, did you know I was going to come out behind this trafficí?

LH: Well, firstly just let meÖ as you already spoken of Fernando, heís a true legend. Itís been a real honour and a privilege to race in a period of time where he has been racing. Before I even got to Formula 1 I was already watching him and admiring what he had achieved. I was asked all weekend Ďwill you miss himí and naturally I donít really quite feel like I miss another driver ever, but the sport will miss him, we will miss him and I will definitely will miss him being in the sport. Today, well, my engineers always talk about stopping super early. They're way too chilled behind the wall! And I was like ďyeah, Iíve got a long way to and this doesnít feel too good right nowĒ. But it lasted long, once again they were calculated and correct and thatís why we have to put so much trust in those guys. A big, big thank you to Mercedes and all of the team, all of the sporting partners. We wouldnít have had this championship without them. The championship wouldnít be the same without the fans, these guys that are travelling around the world, thank you so much for coming, appreciate it.

Q: Lewis, congratulations. Finally, Max you said you would be on the podium, your fifth straight podium result. Some good hard racing there with Valtteri Bottas, good day for you.

Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, not an easy race. I had a problem off the start. Actually, the launch was good but then the engine went into like a safety programme and I had it again on the re-start afterwards. It was not easy but we managed to go back into a good position, putting pressure on the guys ahead. I think I stopped quite early but I had to, because I was on the hypers. Then we managed to keep the supersoft alive and I had good pace. But the last few laps were not that easy as there was a Toro Rosso leaking oil onto my helmet, so I couldnít really see where I was going, but at the end of course very happy to be third.


Q: (Scott Mitchell Ė Autosport) Sebastian and Lewis, you both have plenty of experience winning world titles. Weíve seen Max up alongside you now quite a bit at the end of this season. Do you think heís ready for a world title push next year Ė and Max, how much have learned this year Ė and do you think youíre ready to fight for the world title next year?

LH: How many years you been going now? Is this your third year?

MV: Fourth!

LH: Jeez, youíre getting old!

SV: Veteran. You have some wrinkles.

MV: Itís quite demanding and stressful.

SV: Botox?

MV: I might start with that, yeah.

LH: Max has been driving very well throughout the year and has shown his consistency and has been up here many, many times with us, so if his team does the job and delivers a platform with which he can compete even closer with us, then of course heíll be in the fight. I think heís finished third in the championship, right?

MV: No, two points behind Ė but at least I donít have to go to the Gala!

LH: Lucky you!

MV: We calculated that. Iím sorry. Unless I can do it as a community service day, and then I will go.

LH: No, you canít do that as a community service day.

MV: Iíll do some PR stuff before? How great the whole venue is, Iíll do a special speech in the eveningÖ


SV: No, no keep going. This is good fun from the outside. Yeah. On the track, I donít think he needs any advice. I think heís got all the ingredients. I think thereís a couple of guys out there who have these qualitie and Max is certainly one of them. Yeah, I think weíve seen that. I also remember from my time, itís important to have a competitive package throughout the season and Red Bull are certainly very, very strong and I think they put more performance to their car than any other team across the year, so obviously that allowed them to be very competitive, especially looking after tyres, etc., but yeah, I think both to be honest, Max and Daniel have proven that they can be very, very quick and very consistent so Iím sure more of him, heíll be up here.

And Max. Do you feel ready for a title push?

MV: I always find that a really difficult question, because youíre so dependent on the package in Formula One. I mean, when I was watching back in the day to Formula One, it seemed like Lewis was ready for the title in his first year. Seemed like you were pretty quick. Of course, I think in a year you can always do things better but I think thatís every year. Even if, at the end of the day, you win the title, there are always things which you can do better. So, yeah, even if we have a winning package, for sure there will be weekends where maybe you make a mistake, or it can be a better weekend overall. Hopefully first weíll have that package.

Q: (Rebecca Clancy Ė The Times) Question to all three drivers. Just 112 days until weíre in Australia. What are your plans now? What are you going to be doing over the winter break?

SV: What are your plans? You seem to be counting the days. Canít wait?

Seb, why don't you start? What are your plans?

LH: Another baby?

SV: I donít know. Quickly done! If you need advice, I know how to do it.

MV: Keep pushing!

SV: I don't know how long you two want to be in free practiceÖ

MV: I like free practice.

SV: If you want to go to qualifying and take things to the next level, youíve got my number! Itís the usual drill. Weíve got some events coming but, things that I look forward to, after this year, to be very honest, is to turn everything off. I think I need some time for myself. I think it has been a quite difficult and exhausting year for me. I definitely need a bit of a gap. Iím pretty sure, based on the last winters, that very soon, usually after 111 days, Iím very, very hungry again for the next race. As I said, getting away for a little bit and then focus. Obviously we still have the test coming up, so not yet time to rest Ė but yeah, I think this will be an important one with the tyres for the next year and then, I donít know. Just enjoy home. Enjoy my family, enjoy friends. Do stuff that you donít usually have much time for. Some DIY. Do some fixing at home. Small jobs.


SV: Do It Yourself.

LH: You do that stuff?

SV: Yeah. A little bit.

LH: Good job.

SV: Working on my bikes. Very slow process.

MV: Itís like old-timers, right?

SV: Itís my very first bike, from when I was 15. Still restoring it.

MV: Tuning it as well, or just restoring?

SV: Just back to the original.

LH: Does it start still?

SV: Not at the moment. Itís just a frame with all the bits next to it, waiting for reassembly, soÖ!

Lewis, your plans?

LH: I havenít made any plans yet Ė but looking forwards to family time. I unfortunately still have a lot of work to do until mid-December sometime Ė but excited for the winter, winter break and just getting time to spend with my sister and the kids and my Mum and my Dad. The whole switch-off thing. The seasons are getting longer and longer, so the importance of that period is getting more and more important. But, Iím going to stay in free practice for a little bit longer! Works best for me.


LH: No, I do DIY. I do like doing that. Iím usually breaking something because everythingís fixed already, so I have to break it first and then I redo it.

And Max, what are your plans?

MV: I really want to be at home. I really like to spend time there and do stuff with my friends as well. I havenít really met up with them in the last two months, so yeah, itís good to catch up during December and early January, and then weíll start preparing again.

LH: Free practice?

MV: A lot of free practice, yeah.

LH: Youíre staying in free practice?

MV: Iíll definitely stay in free practice.

Q: (Phil Duncan Ė PA) Lewis, we saw you take your overalls off on the podium. Was that an advert for further free practice or is it just a new celebration?

LH: No, I just wanted to show ĎStill I riseí on my back.

SV: Thereís a lot going on soÖ

LH: But it definitely didnít go as I thought it would go but anyways, it was OK. But weíll see if it helps with practice! Not that I need any!

Q: (Christian Menarth Ė MotorsportMagazin.com) Seb, you said you know where you have to change within the team, until next season. What did you mean exactly, did you mean on the technical side or the team side or operational side?

SV: Well, in the end itís a big operation, so a lot of small things that need to come together but I think everybodyís there. Weíve mentioned it many times. Obviously we lost our path a little bit halfway through the year. Things didnít come together so obviously we did a step back towards the end of the year which enabled us to be more competitive again but I think weíve understood what went wrong, we obviously tried to do a better job in the future, that was one key thing. On the other hand I think we had a lot of lessons, it was a tough year in general. I think the team is strong and the team has potential but surely it was a lot of things that happened inside the team. The passing of our chairman, Mr Marchionne obviously had an impact and was tough so I think itís up to us to look into every single detail and make sure we come out as a stronger group, enabling us to build a stronger package for next year and for the future.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire Ė Associated Press) Just to follow up on that, Sebastian, do you think thereís anything that you need to change personally, in your approach to driving, to take the next step next season?

SV: I think, naturally, the year Iíve had, I donít think I ever any problems raising my hand if I made a mistake. I think, knowing as well, as a racing driver, how quickly things can go wrong, how quickly things could have gone differently this year, I think, yeah, I have to review a couple of things but thereís other things that I think went wrong and donít need a lot of reviewing and not over-complicating things too much. I think I know what I need to do. Certainly, here and there, looking back I havenít been at the top of my game soÖ I look at myself first, I think I can be better than I was at times this year. Having said that though, I think we also had a lot of races where we got everything out of the car and the package and I felt that I did everything I could. I was happy with that. But yeah, thatís how it goes, thatís sometimes why you love racing and sometimes why you hate racing. Yeah, as I said, for now I need a bit of time just to shut things down and then I think usuallyÖI donít know, itís a bit like skiing: maybe you learn something overnight before you go on the slopes again the next day. Obviously our night, it would help to hibernate, it would be stretching the night a lot longer than it is but I think we have a little bit of time to digest and analyse and yeah, Iíve always tried to improve things. I donít think I need to change things upside down but certainly in there I can adjust and get stronger.


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