PART ONE: DRIVERS Ė Charles LECLERC
(Ferrari), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas)
Q: Charles, if we could start with you, please. Weíre going to take a look
back at the last race in Brazil, to begin with. Having had time to review
the video footage, whatís you analysis of what happened in the incident
between you and Sebastian?
Charles LECLERC: Yeah, we looked at it and I particularly looked at it,
obviously, to try to understand how we could have made the things better. I
think it was very unfortunate, first of all, because the touch was extremely
small and it had a big drama after that, and that was a bit unlucky. But as
a team we should probably try to be a bit less aggressive in between each
other, for these things to not happen again. For the team itís not good. For
everyone supporting us itís not good, so we will try for it to not happen
Q: What has happened since the Brazilian Grand Prix? Have you guys all met
up in Maranello and had a chat?
CL: Yeah, I was there for the simulator, so on this occasion we also took
the day to discuss a little bit and yeah, Iím pretty sure it wonít happen
Q: Seb is still on your Christmas card list?
Q: I was joking: Seb is still on your Christmas card list.
CL: Oh yeah!
Q: Charles, if we can look back at the season as a whole now. Your first
with Ferrari. A lot of headlines that you can very satisfied with on a
personal level Ė the wins, the seven poles, including being the youngest
ever Ferrari pole sitter. But in terms of the teamís performance it has been
a bit of a rollercoaster. How would you sum it up?
CL: Itís been a bit of a weird season. We started definitely not where we
thought we would start after winter testing. Winter testing was very
positive and we arrive at the first race and we have been struggling quite a
lot. After that I think the progression was very good. Austin was a little
bit weird too; we still donít really understand why we were so off the pace.
Brazil we were back to where we wanted. But overall we progressed quite a
lot, which I think is the most important [thing]. Now Iím really looking
forward to keeping this momentum for next year. Itís the first time in my
single-seater where I stay in the same team from one year to another, which
also should be an interesting challenge to develop a car. Letís see, but
overall I think it has been a positive season, apart from the first race,
which has been very negative.
Q: Thank you Charles and good luck this weekend. Max, a question about this
year for you too. Itís the teamís first season with Honda. Has it exceeded
Max VERSTAPPEN: I donít know. Itís been very promising and I think also we
had some good results. For me, what was more important was reliability. That
has been very strong throughout the whole year and also the progression we
made with the engine itself. Yeah, that has all been going really well. But
we always want more, so we will never be satisfied with what we are doing.
Itís been good and I think it is a good, letís say, basis for next year as
well. We learned a lot throughout the whole year and I feel confident that
we can have a positive to next season.
Q: Dominant win for you last time out in Brazil. Which team comes into the
Abu Dhabi with the fastest car?
MV: I donít know; weíll find out. Still, looking at the season, youíd have
to say Mercedes. Weíll see how the weekend will progress. Itís still also a
lot about just finding the right set-up. I think the last few races the
three teams, the three top teams have been really close to each other and I
hope itís going to be the same here.
Q: Thank you Max. Kevin, for your 2019 started strongly, but it tailed off
quite dramatically. Why did it go wrong?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: I think there are a few different reasons, but it became
very clear in Bahrain that we had a problem, which was really strange
because in winter testing and in the first race the car was really good.
Even in Bahrain in qualifying we qualifiedÖ I canít remember, sixth of
something, up there. Then in the race it just completely fell apart. So from
there on it was a little bit of panic in the team. We couldnít really focus
onÖ kind of find the real root of the problem. We were looking a lot at
tyres and blaming the problem on tyres issues whereas in fact it was a
little more simple, I think, just aero issues, unstable aero and the whole
platform just not being strong enough and consistent, stable enough. Itís a
very, I would say, frustrating problem, because we have able to qualify well
but in the race we just have not had any strength. Thatís very frustrating
as a driver, where you start in a position and then youíre just fighting to
try to hang on to your position rather than attacking the guy in front. In
that way itís been pretty frustrating, but on the other hand, we are a very
young team, itís only our fourth year. Last year we got P5 in the
Constructorsí Championship. I think thatís pretty impressive. I donít think
many teams have done that in their third year. So weíve got to take some
confidence from that as well and just build on the experience that we have
had this year and the learning that we have done and then just come back
stronger next year.
Q: You say itís been frustrating for the drivers, but how have you
progressed as a driver this year?
KM: Well, you always learn in any situation but especially when itís
difficult you learn different things and you just have to approach your
problems in a different way and I think that gives you strength and some
experience that you wouldnít necessarily have gotten if you were just
cruising and driving in a perfect car. So in many ways itís also been
positive, both for me, as a driver, and for the team as well.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrew Benson Ė BBC Sport) Question for Charles. You say you are pretty
sure that an incident like that wonít happen again, but how can you be so
sure. Was blame apportioned by the team in the meetings you had? What
guidelines and rules have been laid down about racing together in the future
and are you even allowed to race together in the future?
CL: No, I think this doesnít change. We will be able to race together.
Obviously, Seb and myself are very competitive, we both want to win, but we
also need to find the right compromise. We are also racing for the same
team. As I said earlier, we need to be lees aggressive towards each other
and give us a little bit more space for these things to not happen again. Of
what I know, thatís the only thing that will happen for the next races, but
maybe Mattia can go a bit further into that. Apart from that, I donít think
there is much we can do. Obviously, as I said, the consequences were huge in
the last race but if you look back at the contact it was very, very small.
It was unfortunate but we will make sure it doesnít happen again.
Q: (Jon McEvoy Ė Daily Mail) Charles, just to go back to what Andrew asked
before. Did either driver do as was suggested and say ďI was to blame for
thatĒ, you or Seb? And b, are there now sort of new arrangement that if you
do have an accident for example that you might be fined or banned or sacked
or is it just sort of idle hope?
CL: On the second question thereís been nothing said on that. We called with
Seb and we tried to understand both of our situations. I think probably Seb
shouldnít have gone to the left and he knows it and I probably could have
done a better job of avoiding him going to the left. So yeah, both of us
have a bit of responsibility, but the most important thing is that
everything is clear with Seb and we move forward.
Q: (Walter Koster Ė SaarbrŁcker Zeitung) Charles, before I start my
question, I have to remind you of high praises Ė no doubt you have had more
good races than bad ones, but if we stick to the less good races with bad
luck and mishaps, such as Baku, where the Ferrari hit the barriers, in
Bahrain where you lost the lead due to an engine problem, in Austria where
you were caught by Max and Monaco, your first home race, was very
disappointing with last place and probably the low point, in Hockenheim, it
was a mistake of the driver and last in Brazil, the finish after a hard
battle with your team-mate. Now, my question to the pop star of Formula 1:
what was your best race among your worst races? Can you give us, please, a
ranking regarding your five not so good races, starting with the worst? Iím
a polite person or man, please excuse this question, but I still hope for an
CL: That was a long question. Congratulations. Kevin, you can start.
KM: Iím in a trance.
MV: Well [Charles] you are the pop star, so first of all, can you sing?
CL: Yeah, I can sing. I wonít sing now, but I can sing. I donít knowÖ
MV: I lost you after a few sentences.
KM: You have to rank your five worst races.
CL: Worst races? Five worst? OK, that was a simple question. SoÖ
Q: (Walter Koster Ė SaarbrŁcker Zeitung) What was the best race among the
CL: So the top five best and the top five worst?
KM: Take your time.
MV: Weíve got a lot time.
Q: Your five worst races, please?
MV: Are we going to make it more complicated? Like, this year or in his
CL: My worst race this year was probably Brazil, second one Monaco, third
oneÖ Third one? Thatís two. Thatís good. No?
KM: Heís had a good question.
CL: That was a question only for me? OK, thank you!
Q: Unless, Max, youíd like to offer your worst of the season, or Kevin?
MV: Er, no Ė save the time.
Q: (Joost Nederpelt - NU.NL) Question to all drivers. If you were the
director of the Drive to Survive documentary on Netflix, what moment of the
season would you definitely put in?
KM: I donít know. I donít know whatÖ I have a thing in mind but weíll see if
itís made it into it. Itís a surprise. Watching the next Netflix season two
and youíll find out.
Q: Nothing else you can offer us now?
KM: No, it hasnít been that exciting from our side, soÖ
Q: What bit of Hockeheim exactly?
MV: I think they were following Mercedes closely in Hockenheim? I would like
to see that episode. Itís a bit of fun, right? I mean, they can laugh about
it as well: they still won the Championship, so a bit of drama involved in
the series is good. If I would be the director Ė because you have to create
CL: yeahÖ I would not choose the last race but probably the Monza victory is
the one I would like to see on the documentary.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Ė Agencia EFE) Question both for Charles and Max.
I can imagine you being young and very talented drivers, youíre focussing on
winning your first world title but do you every focus yourself like looking
at Lewis, maybe winning six?
MV: I was thinking about ten. No. You donít need to think like that. It just
happens or doesnít. Itís 50:50. You just try to do the best you can,
personally. You also need a bit of luck. You need to get into the right car
at the right time and you need a dominant team as well for a few more years
in a row. At leastÖ it depends on how long your career is lasting. No,
personally I donít think about it too much because, as Iíve just said, it
happens or it doesnít. At the end of the day, I think already winning one
title would be a great achievement.
CL: Yeah, I personally donít think about it too much. I believe that with
work, anything is achievable, so I mostly think about how I can do my job in
the proper way. Then, of course, the choice you make in a career are very
important. It not only depends on yourself but it also depends on luck but
Iím mostly focussing on work more than thinking about the title.
Q: Kevin, I feel we should ask you as well.
KM: I need to try to win a race first and then I can start thinking about
championships after that. So, yíknowÖ the ambition has always been there.
Thatís always been the dream since I was a little kid: to be Formula 1 World
Champion and yíknow, that ambition and that dream is still there but
obviously Iím in a slightly different position to those two guys.
Q: (Arjan Schouten Ė AD Sportswereld) Two questions for Max. Whatís the
importance of the third place in the Driversí Championships, and again,
youíre on the long list for Dutch sportsman of the year election, together
with six cyclists, three speed-skaters, a darts player, a world champion in
chequers, a windsurfer, judoka, and the Championsí League winner Virgil van
Dijk, so I presume youíre going to win this one Ė what do you think?
MV: First one, I think itís always nicer than finishing fourth or fifth Ė
but yeah, looking back in 20 yearsí time and seeing that you were third in
the Championship wouldnít really make me very happy. I think weíre all here
to win and, of course, fight for the title. So yeah, I think it would be
nice after this weekend to be third but in 20 yearsí time, I donít think it
will do much. And the second one, honestly, yeah, I have my own opinion
about being nominated but I prefer not to comment on it.
Q: Charles, can we get your thoughts on third place in the Championship?
CL: Itís always nice to finish a season on the podium. Iíll give it all.
Now, 11 points are quite a bit to recover in one race, but weíll give it all
and it will be a nice thing to finish my first season with Ferrari on the
podium Ė but yeah, weíll see what will happen.
Q: (Lennart Bloemhof Ė Volksrant) Question for Max, youíre nearing the end
of your fourth season at Red Bull. Regarding your dominant win in Brazil,
and youíre fighting for pole positions now, do you believe youíre closer to
having a Championship-winning car more than ever at the team right now?
MV: Yeah. I think we do. Also, looking at the plans for next year Ė but of
course you still have to wait and see what the others come up with. But we
are of courseÖ we want to fight for the title, so weíre going to give it
everything we have to be competitive from the start next year.
Q: (Milan Klemenc Ė Avtomanija) I have one question for all three: what are
expectations for next year. We know new tyres 2020. I know you were
interested after the last race. Whatís your opinion?
KM: I donít even think the tyres have been chosen yet, have they? And then
the aero is the same. So, on personal side, Iím hoping we will get a better
car Ė but in terms of regulations and the racing itself, I donít see it
changing too much. Itís more 2021 Iím looking forward to: to see how that
Max, do you see it changing much next year?
MV: Well, I hope we can fight for the title. Thatís it.
CL: Yeah, not much. I think weíve been working pretty well, as I was
mentioning earlier, with the car, so hopefully we can continue with the
progression and start from a better place, the season, to be fighting for
Part Two: Pierre GASLY (Toro Rosso), Carlos
SAINZ (McLaren) Daniil KVYAT (Toro Rosso), Kimi RńIKK÷NEN (Alfa Romeo)
Q: Pierre, howís it been since Interlagos? Have
you been home? Whatís the reaction been like in Frand?
Pierre GASLY: Yeah, it was a pretty crazy weekend in and, yeah, after the
race it was probably the worst celebration Iíve had, because I had to fly
straight back home, so 11pm I was in the plane, and landed Monday afternoon
back in France. The only thing I really had was a nice dinner with my
family, brothers, back in France, in Paris on Monday night, just to
celebrate and enjoy the moment altogether. And yeah, it was great to see the
reaction back in France. All the news and the support. The messages from
everybody after a great race and yeah, my first podium in Formula 1.
And the reaction within the team and within Formula 1 as well.
PG: No, I must say it was quite impressive. The reactions from everyone. Of
course itís been such a rollercoaster for me this season. And just, yeah, to
end the season with my first podium in F1, in Toro Rosso, which was their
third podium in history, of course, was something really special. So, to
celebrate with everyone; mechanics; engineers, itís also their second podium
this year and year, just to see the passion, the excitement that was going
on in the paddock in Brazil was something really special.
And of course, 2019ís not over. Youíre battling with Carlos Sainz, the man
on your right for sixth placeÖ
PG: Itís not the first time weíre battling, is it!
Carlos SAINZ: No!
Q: True, and both tied on 95 points now and, as you say your careers have
crossed in the past. How much rests of what happens in that battle this
PG: I think it makes it really exciting, you know, coming in the last race
of the season with something to play in the championship, so really looking
forward to that battle. Carlos and McLaren have been fast all year long.
Consistent. So, we expect it to be tough but it will be our job to execute
the perfect weekend to hold to that sixth place until the end.
Q: Carlos, coming onto you. Letís start by talking about that sixth place.
How confident are you?
CS: I think as confident as we can be but at the same time youíre obviously
cautious. You can never know whatís going to happen in the last race but,
you know, I already consider it a bit of a success to be fighting for P6.
Itís a bit of a bonus because you never expect, when youíre in the midfield,
to fight for P6. Maybe you would expect to fight for P7. And now that we
have the chance, weíve created ourselves an opportunity, and we want to take
it, obviously. Iím sure itís not going to be easy. Pierre and Toro Rosso
during the last few weekends have been very strong. Theyíve executed some
really nice races and Iím sure weíre going to have some fun and some tough
Q: And, the podium in Brazil. How do you reflect on it? What was the
reaction back home in Spain?
CS: It was good. To see a team celebrate a podium in that way, and to have
them in the podium with me was quite special, quite different to what I
expected of my first podium but definitely good fun. Then when we went back
to the factory. To see a whole factory taking pictures with the trophy,
enjoying it with me for a couple of days, was great fun Ė then I went back
home to my family and friends to celebrate a bit Ė but at the same time, as
we have this battle going on for P6, you know I was like, yeah good fun Ė
but at the same time I want to go to go to Abu Dhabi and try to finish off
on a high.
Q: Carlos, some people questioned your move to McLaren this year, yet itís
turning into your best season in Formula One. How much satisfaction has it
CS: Obviously quite a lot. I had good feelings when I moved to McLaren, even
if things didnít look very promising at the end of 2018. I did have some
conversations with a lot of engineers, a lot of people, Zak. I donít know,
the project itself just gave me good vibes. I donít know if it has anything
to do with the good results but those good vibes. I donít know if it has
anything to do with the good results but those good vibes translated very
quickly into results and into a change of approach by McLaren, a very big
change in the structure of the team, and all of a sudden weíre here with one
race to go, having secured P4 in the standings, the first podium in five
years and, all of a sudden, it looks like the right move. Iím very happy,
and very pleased to see such a great group of people performing at such a
very high level and being so hungry and motivated to move forwards still.
Q: Daniil, coming to you now: youíve scored a podium, Pierreís scored a
podium, Honda are making good progress. Can you just describe the atmosphere
in the team at the minute and how bullish Toro Rosso is about the future?
Daniil KVYAT: Yeah, certainly it was a very strong year for Toro Rosso,
perhaps the best in the history you may say, so yeah, itís obviously great
to be able to fight for a very high position in the Constructorsí
championship, the highest it has been in recent years. Yeah, so great to be
a part of it and the atmosphere in the team this yearÖ I think the team has
always performed very well; since the beginning of the year it was quite
consistently in the points and always taking the opportunities quite well;
with strategy, taking the points which werenít even there, to still get them
was very crucial sometimes and now at the end of the year we find ourselves
in a good strong position, so certainly it was also a very good boost for
Q: And what about your own performance this year? You sat out 2018, how do
you feel youíve progressed as a driver in 2019?
DK: I feel very satisfied, to be honest. I would put it in line with one of
my best years in F1 so Iím pretty happy. Some races go your way, some races
donít go your way but this is how our midfield works, itís very tight and
some small mistake can cost you some opportunities like myself in Brazil for
example. I definitely lost a very big opportunity there which luckily
Pierre, for the team, managed to take. Yeah, but these are the parts of our
sport that we all know. I think this year I have been a lot more better
driver than my last years in F1.
Q: Kimi, coming on to you: itís been an up and down kind of season for Alfa
Romeo. When you reflect on it, what has the team done well and where does it
need to improve?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I think itís two different halves of the year where the
first part of the year was pretty decent and most of the races and also we
had some bad races around Barcelona, Monaco but it improved from there and
then since the summer break, first we had good speed still but didnít score
any points as a team and then itís been very difficult apart from the last
couple of races where we at least had some speed to fight in the top ten.
Only in the last one could we score good points with two cars but itís a bit
too late, looking more as a team halfway through but thatís how it goes. I
think we learned some things; last race we brought a new front wing which
helped a bit, so weíre still trying to improve so itís all learning for next
year and we try to do a better job as a team.
Q: Kimi, how much have you enjoyed this season, away from the pressure
cooker environment of Ferrari?
KR: I donít think the pressure was any different. Obviously we want to do
well and like I said, itís a shame weíve kind of fallen down as a team but
as a driver, I think everyone puts a lot of pressure on themselves and in
the end the work that we do over the race weekend is not really any
different whichever team youíre in, itís just that the meetings are very
similar between teams, the driving is there and the racing. Outside of
racing it has been less busy so thatís nice part of it plus obviously the
team is very close to where I live so I donít need to travel to different
countries, in many ways it helps, I have a bit more time to stay with the
family. Itís a nice thing.
Q: And this is race number 312 for you, taking you ahead of Fernando Alonso
to second on the all-time list of starts. Are you excited to come back next
year and become the all-time most experiencedÖ
KR: On that, not. It gives me nothing but Iím excited now to have another go
and we can improve from this year and learn the lessons from what weíve done
wrong and what weíve done good and get a bit closer to the front but time
will tell, itís way too early. Once we start running the cars in the first
race next year we will get a good idea.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Beatrice Zamuner Ė Motorlat) Pierre, after your latest achievement in
Brazil, do you personally feel you needed to go back to Toro Rosso and let
some pressure off your shoulders in order to perform at a higher level?
PG: I donít think so. l think in a way it was a positive chance to show
myself as well the right things and the things I needed. Of course Iíve seen
in both teams and I know what worked, what didnít and then on both sides. It
obviously was a good experience to see that but I donít think it was needed
to perform at a better level because I donít feel that Iím performing
better, Iím still driving the same way, approaching every weekend the same
way. I always try to deliver the best performance I can and give 110 percent
of myself every single weekend. Itís not like I feel Iíve changed anything
but it was good to get the results in this second part of the season.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Ė Agence EFE) Carlos, your Dad is a very great
champion. Could you share with us what he told you after your podium?
CS: Oof. He was probably happier than me. My Dad has been there with me
since Iím three years old, travelling the world, travelling, sacrificing a
lot of stuff for me and to become a successful driver, teaching me a lot of
things. And once the podium happened, he knew all the effort that I had put
into this year in the change of environment, going to live in UK etc, so
heís been very close to that change and yeah, as I said, I think he was
happier than I was. Probably the only guy but yeah, happier.
Q: (Jesus Balseiro - Diario AS) Carlos, last season you were dropped by Red
Bull and Renault but this season you have scored more points than both
Renault drivers and youíre fighting in the championship against two Red Bull
drivers. Which message do you think youíre sending this season and also is
there any kind of feelings of revenge?
CS: No. Obviously I didnít go into this season with willing revenge or
anything like that. I have a lot of friends in Renault and in Red Bull who I
still feel are happy for me to do well now at McLaren. I got a lot of
messages from people, congratulating me and at the same time you go into a
Formula One season just wanting to perform at your best, the same way I went
into 2017, í18 and this year Iíve just got the results on board and Iím just
very proud of it.
Q: (Heikki Kulta -Turun Sanomat) Kimi, your first season without a podium
since 2014. Which one was more difficult to go through, this season or the
first season with Ferrari?
KR: I think the expectation at the start of the year is completely different
in those two different teams. For sure this year has generally been much
better than if you have such a difficult year in Ferrari as a team or as a
Q: (Daria Panova Ė Motorlat) Next season [sic, 2021] we will have three-day
race weekends; what do you think about it? Isnít it too much to have so many
activities in one day for you?
KR: It should happen next year, already. I mean today is an absolutely
useless day. Honestly, weíre going to talk the same things, half of the
things we talk at least on Sunday after the last race and tomorrow again. I
think it will be a good step because people donít need to be away that many
days and thereís no cost and hotels and (indistinct) that much and all
things will be better for the teamÖ so stop wasting time.
CS: I have a bit of mixed feelings. Personally I like when Formula One goes
to a place it makes a big impact so it becomes a week of having Formula One
there. I think it still involves too much travelling and too much effort
from the mechanics but I think this is a way of preparing for a bigger
calendar which is something Iím totally against. I mean 22/21 races already
feels too much. I think that last extra day that we take off doesnít fully
compensate those 22/25 races that we want to have in the future.
PG: I think everyone in this room is happy about it: more days at home, more
days with the family. I think itís needed, clearly I agree with what Kimi
says, that not so much for us, because I would say we almost have the easy
life, easiest life in the paddock but for all the guys Ė mechanics,
engineers Ė well, you can see, talking with them, that to have a personal
life in that world, working in that environment is really difficult. No, I
think itís a good thing but then after, I join the point of Carlos, that if
we increase the number of races as well, itís never going to balance it, so
I think itís a good step for í21 but hopefully they donít increase the
number of races too much. Thatís about it.
DK: Not much left to say but yeah, I agree with that, that more races willÖ
it will become more races but we obviously need to shorten the weekend,
which is good. Maybe more real car driving, also some more testing and less
simulator for example, from my side, I think because we also needÖ we donít
need to forget that with the racing we also do a lot of simulator, a lot of
PR events, so it becomes a very difficult calendar. Some guys have families
within the team including myself and yeah, so I agree with whatís been said.