DRIVERS Ė Romain GROSJEAN (Haas), Daniel
RICCIARDO (Renault), Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), Sergio P…REZ (Racing
Point), Robert KUBICA (Williams)
Q: Robert, if we could start with you, please. You finished second here in
2009. Could you just give us your thoughts on being back at Interlagos and
your hopes for the weekend ahead?
Robert KUBICA: Yeah, it has been a long time ago actually. It is difficult
to say about expectations, you know. We have been struggling all year, soÖ
although 2009 it has been very surprising for me to finish on the podium as
it wasnít a great year with BMW, but I would say itís nearly impossible this
time that we will be able to fight for anything higher than what we have
been doing all year. Although, Interlagos is a bit special and anything can
happen, but you have to have the pace. The weather is playing quite an
important role. There have been many races, thrilling letís say races here
around this track due to the weather but you have to have pace and that is
what we are lacking all year.
Q: You say youíve been lacking that all year but weíre now at race 20 of 21,
when you look at the bigger picture can you just reflect on your comeback
season for us?
RK: Well, itís definitely not the easiest season and not the season we were
hoping for. I think every member of Williams is not happy with what we have
seen this year. The team is working hard but it is not an easy season. There
are many things which we could probably handle better. But there are also
things which I think that although the season has been difficult we have
handled in a good way. I think the guys on track always did a very good job
with what we have, especially in the beginning of the season it wasnít easy
and the group stayed strong, united and very, very positive, which is good
to see in such a difficult period. But, you know, itís the kind of situation
where the people on track they cannot make your car going one second faster.
They can make you car going slower, but not faster. And definitely we need
to improve what we get, the pace of the car, and then everything will become
easier. And also for the guys on track the work will be more easier; more
fun. Of course this will not happen with me, as Iím leaving Williams, but I
hope this team will improve their situation for the future, especially
because the guys they deserve it. They are really good people and they are
working hard, so I hope good times, or better times, will arrive soon for
Q: And Robert, what about your own performance this year behind the wheel?
RK: I think the general picture is massively hidden by what we went through
this season and many things did not help and actually did influence in a
negative way what I was able to do. But, you know, coming back to a
competition sport, as Formula 1 is, on the highest level of motorsport,
after a long time and with my limitations a lot of people did not even think
I would be able to race. I heard many stories that in Turn 1 that will not
be able to react to situations and probably the opening lap is one of the
things, which I managed well this season. I heard rumours that I would not
be able to race in Monaco, and probably Monaco was one of my best drives
during this year, although I was still far behind. But feeling-wise it was
positive. Iím leaving this season, of course not happy with the general
performance, but pretty happy with how my body, my mind and my brain reacted
to the difficult challenge I had this year.
Q: Thank you Robert and good luck this weekend. Romain, you havenít finished
in the points since Germany. Can you just describe how difficult the season
half of the year has been for you and the team?
Romain GROSJEAN: Yeah, good morning all. Well, yes, itís been a rough season
generally. We had a very promising winter testing and got to Australia and
things were looking good until the pit stop and that pit stop was kind of a
bad curse for the whole season and then we had good quali pace and race pace
was more difficult. And yeah, I think we are doing the best we can and
honestly on-track and off-track the boys are working very, very hard. And
honestly there is not much to say about what we could do better with what we
have got but as Robert mentioned I think weíre in a little bit the same
position at the minute. The car is just not good enough and everything we do
is not reflected on track. Germany, it was good to be in the points. It was
a bit of a crazy race and the idea was to finish the race and we did and
that was positive but yeah more recently it has been complicated to fight
also for the points, but again not the fault of the team Ė the work is good;
itís just the car we have is not good enough to fight for good points. So I
guess the focus was very early on into 2020 and make sure that next year we
get a better tool to work with.
Q: So if this yearís car isnít good enough, what does the team need to do to
ensure it doesnít have a repeat of 2019 next season?
RG: I think thatís a good question for Guenther. I think the team knows what
needs to be done. There have been a lot of discussions; there has been a lot
of, how can I say, I donít find the word in English, but just the way we
operate, the race team, itís great and many races I think we perform better
than we should. You know, being in the top 10 in Russia, in qualifying in
Suzuka, not far from the top 10 in America, in quali it just shows that we
are outperforming when we can, on new tyres. The race always unfortunately
brings back the truth. I know that Guenther has been working very hard with
all the boys, our chief engineer, Ayao Komatsu, and make sure that we react
well for next year. I think everyone sees that Ė our partners, like Richard
Mille just announced that they are going to carry on with us for one year,
so everyone believes that the team is going to do good this year.
Q: Would you say that this is your most frustrating season in Formula 1?
RG: Itís been a tough season and obviously when you come to the race and you
know that the chances of fighting for a good position is hard, then itís not
easy. But Iíve know that in my career. 2013 was a really good season and
then 2014 was very difficult and we didnít have a good car but then the
team, at the time, in Enstone reacted well and 2015 was good again. Itís the
same thing as Haas Ė 2016 was a good start, 2017 a bit more complicated and
2018 really good. So, Iíve got confidence that we can bounce back. Yes, itís
frustrating and I must be a bit crazy, because Iím always looking forward to
come to a race and very happy to be in Brazil. Maybe on Sunday when weíve
done 71 laps and we havenít been able to challenge itís a bit of a different
feeling but it doesnít matter, weíll still be happy to go to the next one.
Q: Thanks Romain and good luck this week. Sergio, youíve scored in six of
the last seven races. At the summer break you set the team the target of
having the fourth fastest car at the end of the season. How close to that
target have you got?
Sergio P…REZ: Yeah, I donít think we have achieved what we wanted this year.
Itís been a disappointing season in a way. We knew it was not going to be
great since the beginning but we kind of expected to be a bit more
competitive by now. I think in the second half of the season weíve been
strong, in different circuits, different places, which is always positive. I
think McLaren, in that midfield, has been very consistent, very strong, but
I think we have been in the mix with all the others and weíve scored a good
amount of points since the summer break, so I think there are a lot
positives to take, but the general picture is, yeah, itís not where we want
Q: You havenít reached Q3 since the Belgian Grand Prix. How much has the
carís lack of qualifying pace compromised your races?
SP: Yeah, it does. I donít think we have quite the pace in quali but then
come race day we seem to be on the stronger side. Good strategy also from
the team. I think the team has been tremendous in that regard. They are
always maximizing the maximum, especially in the last couple of races Ė
outsmarting other teams with the strategies, with everything we possibly
can. So hopefully we can keep going. There is still tomorrow and a lot to
play for. We are in a big battle in the Constructorsí with Toro Rosso at the
moment, so hopefully we can finish ahead.
Q: Just one point the gap to Toro Rosso, but you are only 18 behind Renault.
Do you have enough in your armoury to challenge Renault for P5?
SP: Well, itís not over until itís over, so weíll try our best!
Q: A knowing nod from Daniel Ricciardo. Sergio, thanks for that. So, Daniel,
Renault has hit a bit of form. Youíve scored points in the last couple of
races and drove a particularly strong race in Austin. Have you found some
consistency in the car?
Daniel RICCIARDO: I think so. Like, on Sundays it certainly seems to show a
bit more now. The qualifying Ė weíve still had a good run of Q3s but weíre
not always there, but comparing to, as Sergio says, comparing to McLaren who
have been our midfield target this year after their form, it seems like
qualifying most weekends theyíve still got a good buffer but come race day
we are able to, if not beat them, then get much closer to their pace. We are
starting to get some consistency with the car, which is good. I think as
well for me, naturally, the more races I do and the more familiar I am with
the car, the more I start, just myself, to get consistent; make fewer errors
and this and that. But yeah, itís been a good run of races for sure. What
was it, sixth in Austin? Itís like sixth is a big deal and that was quite
exciting. Yeah, weíre not spraying champagne on the podium but there is
still a lot of satisfaction to take from a sixth place for us.
Q: You say a good run of races, but what about the season as whole? How do
you reflect on year one with Renault? Because there were some people who
questioned your move from Red Bull to Renault.
DR: Yes. I knew they would and I knew all this was going to come but I was
very, I guess open-minded for the season. Firstly, I was excited to have a
fresh start and a change. Iíve made the mistake in the past of setting to
high an expectation and left disappointed, so I more came into the season
excited for something new and a new challenge. I didnít really expect the
world from this season. I expect a lot from myself but I knew it would take
time to get the team to where we want it to go. Weíre still not there but I
think in the second half of the season we have had a bit more consistency.
Thatís been more positive. So looking towards what we are really trying to
achieve next year it looks better. Weíll start to expect more Ė not only
from myself but also from the team come 2020. But I think we have learned a
lot. Personally I have. The results haven always been what we wanted but I
definitely donít see it being a year to forget or anything like that, far
Q: So what are you really trying to achieve in 2020?
DR: Champagne. I mean really, when I signed with the team, 2020 was the
target to finish on the podium, at least once. Thatís really the target.
Yeah, weíre still a little bit away from that but McLaren are proof of the
pudding that you can really make a big difference in one season, so I think
with a strong off-season itís not impossible for us to have a chance to
fight for that. I think ultimately whether itís champagne or not we want to
closer to the top three and actually be in the fight with those three teams
more consistently next year.
Q: Valtteri, there have been a few celebrations in the UK since the last
race, talking about Mercedesí celebrations obviously, how proud are you of
your role in the teamís success this year?
Valtteri BOTTAS: Yeah, we had nice celebrations at the factory last week.
Actually, when you go there and see all the people and all the smiles and
all that you actually realise what weíve done together as a team. So, thatís
always a very, very nice moment, with so much good energy and happiness. So,
for sure it means a lot to me, to be part of this team, breaking records,
being one of the team members of many who make it possible. And yes, itís
been a much better season from my side than last year, so itís been nice to
contribute properly to the achievements weíve got as a team. SoÖ yeah. One
of the many proud team-members, for sure.
Q: You say itís been a better season than last year. Would you say this has
been your best season in Formula 1 from a driving point of view?
VB: I believe if I look at it overall, the season yes, itís been my best so
far in Formula 1 but still not a season that Iím aiming for. Still need a
bit more consistency, fewer mistakes but the thing that gives me good
feeling and confidence for the future is now actually really starting to see
the work weíve been doing with the engineers and what Iíve been doing with
myself and driving-wise, and being really able to target many of the
weaknesses Iíve had, and been able to improve my pace in different
circumstances quite a lot. So thatís very satisfying to see and makes you
Q: And now that both championships have been sealed and youíre guaranteed
second place in the Championship, can we expect a change in approach from
you coming into this weekend or Abu Dhabi?
VB: I donít think so. I think itís the same approach. Thereís still two
opportunities to win a race and that should be the only goal for me. Thereís
very positive momentum for me and I want to keep that going Ė and then
continue from there next year. So, look forward to the last two ones.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret Ė LíEquipe) Question to all drivers. What kind of
memories do you keep from Ayrton Senna and what kind of legacy do you think
he left to Formula 1?
RG: Ayrton has been incredible for the sport. Heís been an icon in Formula
1. I started watching Formula 1, the last few years of Ayrton, fight with
Alain Prost. And obviously being French, you wanted to support Alain Ė but
also you couldnít not support Ayrton, so it was a bit of a hard decision to
pick up which one I wanted to support the most. But yeah, Ayrton has been an
incredible driver. 25 years later weíre still remembering him as if it were
yesterday. We still know what you were doing that day Ė if you were born Ė
in May í94. Itís a big, big name in the history of Formula One.
DR: Heís certainly left a legacy bigger than anyone else really, I think, in
terms of the name is still so common 25 years on. Our hotel is Ė and I know
weíre in Brazil Ė but still itís filled with Senna memorabilia, artwork.
They still hold him very close to their heart and itís nice to see that. And
for me as a driver, and as a kid watching him, and I guess following him, my
admiration was his ability to be so loved off track and have, not only
Brazil but nearly the whole world behind him, but then on track he was as
ruthless as they came, yíknow? That competitor in him was amazing but then
to have that softness off the track. I would say that was pretty admirable.
VB: For sure he left a massive mark and legacy. Time goes pretty quickly but
his memory is not getting any weaker, for sure, so heís always going to be
on everyoneís minds. For sure here in Brazil, massively, but also all around
the world. I think his career, heís motivated so many young kids, like me
and I think all of us, to be better racing drivers. Iím really out of words,
he just left a massive mark and it will always continue like that.
SP: A tremendous character out of the car. What he did for his country, how
proud he was. You can see these days how much they still love him. Not just
in Brazil, all around the world, and what he did on track was spectacular.
Those races where him, purely as a racing driver, made all the difference.
Iíve never seen something like that in my career. He definitely left a big
mark in the sport and heís a big hero for all the generations. Especially
RK: Yeah, I think as everyoneís said, big name, big historical name. I think
itís impressive that, after 25 years since he passed away, it says
everything that we are still talking about his human aspect. We concentrate
a lot about the driver but I think he was really a hero of humanity, and
thatís why he is still loved and has such respect after 25 years.
Q: (Dan Knutson Ė Auto Action / Speed Sport) Robert, where do things stand
now regarding you finalising plans for next year?
RK: They stand pretty well, I would say. Of course, time is running and the
clock is going ahead but Iím pretty confident things are looking good. Of
course, every week something is happening, in positive and negatives, but
itís moving. So, Iím pretty relaxed and working, as I always said, since
Singapore when I was asked. For me, racing is something which Iím looking
forward and working on this and probably also combining different
Q: (Emerson Furkim Ė Car Magazine) Question to all drivers. With the new
regulations for the 2021 season. All the teams have limited budget, they
spend less money than they used to. Do you think this is going to be indeed
the key point to make Formula 1 more competitive; to bring more teams and
driver to fight for the championship?
VB: I think that is one of the good things for the regulations. I think
having a bit less of a difference between the budgets of the different
teamsÖ obviously there will still budget differences between some teams, but
less than in the past. I think thereís lots of other good things as well,
that look really interesting with the new regs. If actually, physically, the
cars will behave aerodynamically as it says on paper, I think the racing is
going to be very close, very tough. Definitively closer between the teams
and, also, with quite a few restrictions on the aero side with the design of
the cars. Already from that, weíre going see less of the big differences
between performance. I think there are lots of good things that I really
look forward to finding out. And then eventually getting to drive the car
and seeing how it feels and how the racing is going to be. Obviously weíll
find out but I think those are good steps in the right direction and I
really hope it will encourage some new teams to arrive in Formula 1, because
I always think the more cars we can have on the grid, the more fun weíre
going to have racing, so that should be nice.
DR: Yeah, I really agree with everything Valtteri said. The last point he
touched on is an important one. It reminded me of 2008, we raced together
the first race of the season in Spa. I think there was 48 cars, or
something, and the grid only held 42 so not everyone qualified. But to have
a grid so big and full of cars and competitors, that in itself was really
exciting. If these changes do encourage more cars, more teams to get on the
grid, not only does it give more opportunity to other drivers to get a seat
in Formula One but yeah, the more competition in the field and as a
spectacle, I think thatís pretty cool. Yeah, hopefully it has positive
change in many ways.
RG: Yeah, I guess Iím the same line. Itís a first step in a good direction.
Is it going to be enough or not? Only the track and the 2021 season will
say. I guess some teams wanted less budget cap, some teams wanted a stronger
budget cap. I think maybe 2021 is not going to be the first season to judge,
because 2020 is where youíre going to develop the car, but 2022 and onwards,
letís see what it brings. I think it can only be positive. As I said, I
believe itís a first step and then maybe fine-tuning can be made. But
generally, yes, itís good and if we can get more people involved in Formula
One and more teams and so on, it just would be better. Also to bring the
young drivers in and have more competition, and not always seeing the same
one winning. Not that theyíre complaining about it Ė but we do a little bit.
SP: Always when thereís a big regulation change it always tends to change a
lot the team order, in terms of competition. So that can be very positive
for the sport. I think on paper itís looking a lot more competitive. Itís
looking like the field can be very tight and competitive and itís something
Iím looking extremely forward to. When you look at the midfield Ė how
competitive and fun it is to come to a race and you donít know who is going
to come out on top Ė itís a feeling that Iím missing a lot. In the whole
field, hopefully by 2021 it can be there.
RK: Yeah. I think we have to split two things. One is closer racing, or the
cars which opens up better racing. I think this is looking promising and I
hope really Liberty and the FIA can achieve it, what they show us. I think
this will definitely make races more exciting for drivers Ė but also for the
fans. Regarding different teams winning. I have my opinion, which often I
think weíve forgotten about talent of the people who are working within the
teams. Itís true that money helps but the talent makes the difference. I
hope it will put teams closer together Ė but I have some doubts about it. As
we have seen in Formula 1, there has always been domination, or years where
one team was winning Ė and we also see it in Formula 2, Formula 3: the cars
are the same but in the end the talent of the people who are operating the
cars is even more powerful. We will have to wait and see Ė but definitely if
the cars will open up better racing, this will be something big and
everybody is looking forward to this.
Do you think the driver salaries should have been included in the budget
RG: Of course!
DR: What do you think? Letís throw it back at you?
Q: Do I think they should have been? Yes! I think they should have been.
What do you think?
DR: I havenít thought that far ahead Ė 2021. Whatís going to happen
Q: (Julien Biliotte Ė AutoHebdo) Valtteri, you always say that you donít
want to play mind games and cross the yellow line when fighting for the
title, but when you look at what Nico Rosberg managed to do in 2016 against
Lewis by getting under his skin, would you be ready to be more aggressive or
political when it comes to racing your teammate?
VB: Very honest: Iím already slightly bored about that question because
every driver is individual. Iím me. Iím not Nico. For sure, I always have
plans, finding the different ways how I want to achieve my goal which is
ultimately the championship and that obviously requires me to beat my
teammate but also many other drivers. Iíve always preferred to do the
talking on track and if I can keep up my performances and focus all my
energy that I have into my own performance I think thatís going to be the
best bet for me. If I start wasting energy elsewhere, it might take my mind
off the driving and what really matters, and if I can then perform at the
level I want to; normally that tends to upset the other side of the garage a
little bit and I know that being on the other side as well, it can lead you
to mistakes and so on. I have a plan for next year and Iím not really
willing to share it so we will find out.
Q: (Cezary Gutowski Ė Prezeglad Sportowi) Question to Romain, Daniel and
Valtteri, it seems that amongst you guys only Racing Point and Williams are
committed to staying in Formula One past 2020, so my question is, are you
worried about the future of Formula One and what you will do if one of your
teams or all of them quit?
RG: Well, if three of the teams leave, then I guess weíre going to play
petanque or boules or bowls or whatever itís called in Monaco. No, I
honestly hope that in 2021Ö I think 2021 is a good step, good direction and
Iím hoping that the teams will stay and weíre more on the positive side, not
thinking what about if they leave but can we get more teams joining Formula
One. Letís be positive and think that itís actually going to attract more
DR: Yep, Iím at the positive end of the spectrum. I have faith that everyone
will continue in good spirits and keep things going. I wonít think about if
not. I like singing but Iím not good enough to make it as a career so yeah,
Iíll be struggling.
VB: Yeah, Iím on the positive side as well. I feel the change is in the
right direction, as I said before, so Iím not too worried about the future
of Formula One at the moment. Obviously we never know and you never know the
case of individual teams but if something happens, then you always need to
find something else but Iím pretty relaxed and pretty positive about the
Q: (Andreas Lopez Ė Motorlat.com) Daniel, what expectations do you have for
these last two races?
DR: I think to keep the momentum going. Until we finally had a few races in
a row with good resultsÖ you know that was one of the challenging things
this year for us. One weekend would go good and weíre ready to go the next
weekend and then we donít get the result that we think we should have got -
sometimes through some misfortune, other times maybe we didnít read the
situation as well but yeah, I think now we have some momentum and I think
more importantlyÖ I think hopefullyÖ I donít want to say our position in the
championship is secured but we look OK to hold onto the fifth (place) but I
think more importantly to bring that momentum through the winter for the
factory, for the team whoís going to then put the effort in to get the car
on track next year. I think finishing strong has more of an effect than on
that part of the championship than the actual position itself for this year,
if you know what I mean, so for me personally, to keep going, I prefer
finishing sixth than twelfth so Iím going to try and keep finishing well in
the points and see where it gets us after Abu Dhabi but as I said, more
importantly for everyone to just finish the season with their chin up and a
spring in their step and happy to work through the winter with a positive
mindset that the following seasonís going to be better.
Q: (Stewart Bell Ė Maxim, Australia) Obviously Formula One is talking to
Rio, potentially for 2021. What does it mean for you to race here at
Interlagos and the quality as a race venue?
RK: I know very little about Rio, I have never ever been there. I think
opening up new tracks is something which all drivers look forward to, new
challenges and driving on new tracks. Although itís a short lap here, I
still enjoy driving around here and the races have always been quite
exciting here for whatever reason. I have no really big thoughts about
SP: Iím always happy for new venues, especially if it can be a good circuit
where the racing can be good and interesting. As Robert says, here, for any
reasons the Sundays are normally very entertaining and always a lot of
things tend to happen. Quite open to it and if that happens, then I guess it
can be a good venue for Formula One as well.
VB: I think this is a very iconic track. Itís been a part of Formula One for
a long time, very legendary races so for sure it would be a shame not race
here again but at the same time, at least there would still be a race in
Brazil which I think should be a part of the Formula One calendar with all
the support and all the passion the fans have for the sport here. Then, on
the other hand, a new track would be welcome as well but it would be a shame
to leave Interlagos.
DR: I think going to Rio would be cool enough. Iíve never been and a chance
to see another part of the world and yeah, I guess to race in another city.
I think the important thing is that Brazil keeps a Grand Prix. I think it
has such a strong history in the sport so yes, for the locals here it might
be a bit upsetting but I think globally for Brazil just to still hold a race
I think that holds enough power and Rio is a massive city Ė never been, but
Iíve heard itís a massive city, I think everyone knows that, and Iíd like to
check it out and yeah, new challenge, new circuit, that could be fun so I
wouldnít be against it.
RG: Yeah, Interlagos is one of my favourite circuits so I would greatly miss
it if we donít come here any more but you never know what Rioís going to
look like so why not? I guess, as the guys say, the key is that we still
come to Brazil.
Q: (Carlos Costa Ė motorsport.com) Continuing on the topic of the Brazilian
Grand Prix, I would like you to rank Interlagos in comparison with other
tracks on the calendar that we have in F1?
RG: Itís in the top three. I love it. Suzuka, Spa and Interlagos.
DR: I like it. Itís a lot like my local track in Perth (Barbagallo). I wish
it had more corners. Itís a bit short so the lapís over very quickly. I
would have loved an extension Ė I donít know if theyíve got the room Ė but a
few more corners would have made it a bit more exciting. I think to have a
real high-speed corner; I think thatís what the circuit misses. I think itís
got a lot of technical low speed Ė turn one, two is fun but even Turn 6, the
right hander, itís actually not that fast so I wouldnít even classify that
as a high speed corner. For me thatís something which it misses is a corner
where you can really Ė I donít want to say make the difference Ė but a bit
more of a challenging corner because the rest are kind of mostly Ė well,
theyíre not all hairpins but anywayÖ So yeah, itís somewhere in there.
RG: So whatís the final ranking, then?
DR: Itís alright.
VB: I like the track. Obviously it is short but it makes it super close in
qualifying and always makes good races. I think also the local support here
makes it a really unique Grand Prix: always a place to look forward to come
to race again. Itís difficult to say the exact position on my list but
definitely on the better side of the top ten. Itís good fun; I enjoy it.
Q: Daniel, would you say top ten?
RG: Top twenty, he says.
SP: Yeah, itís a cool track, very small. I would like it to be a bit longer,
more corners, the lap is very short. There was a year when Kimi tried an
extension of the track Ė somewhere else! I donít know that part of the
circuit but itís definitely very enjoyable and the racing tends to be very
good. The fans are very enthusiastic so itís a great place. Top five. Top
ten! We have too many good circuits.
DR: Yeah, thatís true.
RK: I think itís a bit unfair to rank it. I think itís a good track and good
racing and as the guys have said, itís short but itís still challenging and
itís good. Itís exactly the same as it was when I was here for the first
time in 2001, not a lot of people remember that I was racing here when I was
16. Itís exactly the same, apart from some of the run-off areas but maybe
thatís why we still like it because modern tracks sometimes they are too
perfect and here is still quite challenging. Ranking? Politically, top ten.