DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE – 2019 Australian Grand Prix
It’s the first race weekend for the 2019 Formula 1 season and here, you can see the driver press conference for the 2019 Australian Grand Prix.
Drivers from left to right – Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Daniel Ricciardo (Renault), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and Robert Kubica (Williams).
PRESS CONFERENCE – 2019 Australian Grand Prix
We’re gathered here under very sad circumstances, following the news that Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Director of Formula One died during the early hours of this morning. Let’s start the press conference y asking each of the drivers to present their thoughts and memories of Charlie – Lewis, could we start with you, please?
Lewis Hamilton: “I’ve known Charlie since I started in 2007. I made some comments this morning on my Instagram – it may not have worked as I think it’s down but obviously incredibly shocked this morning to hear the sad news and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
“What he did for the sport, I mean, his commitment….. he really was a pillar, as Toto said, such an iconic figure in the sporting world and he contributed so much for us – may he rest in peace.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Well, I guess I was as shocked as we all are now – when I heard the new this morning, especially because I spoke to him yesterday and walked the track for the first couple of corners together with him.”
“It’s difficult to grasp when somebody is just not there anymore – to add to what Lewis said, I’ve known him for a long time and he’s sort of been our man, the driver’s man.”
“Obviously, there are regulations and all that and then there is us and he was the middleman. He was someone you could ask anything of, anytime. He was open to everyone at any time – his door was always open. He was a race and he was just a very nice guy – shocked, I don’t think there’s much to add.”
“I think all our thoughts, the whole paddock, the whole circus, the whole family of Formula One – all our thoughts are with him and especially with his family in these difficult circumstances.”
Robert Kubica: “Well, as Seb says and Lewis – it’s a hard moment. I saw Sebastian walking with Charlie yesterday and I thought I would not interrupt them because I would see him on Friday at the drivers’ briefing but unfortunately, this will not be the case. It’s very sad.”
“He was an icon of Formula One, as Sebastian said, a race but also keeping everything in the regulations – he was really the kind of person you could always trust and commit. A very sad moment and my thoughts are with his family.”
Max Verstappen: “I think as everybody has said, it’s just a big shock, I spent the say with him in Geneva a few weeks ago and we had a good chat – just about a lot of things. When I left, at the time I was like “See you in Australia for another season of racing” and when you hear the news, it’s just unbelievable – just 66 years old.”
“I guess, we just have to appreciate every day and every morning – wake up and enjoy life. It’s not only about Formula One but there are a lot of other things in life and this is just one part of it. I think at the moment, the most important is that the thoughts are going to his family, friends and close ones.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I echo everything – it’s not the nicest news to walk into. Taken aback by it, for sure. I’ll try to make it slightly more positive. As Seb said, he was there for us and we gave him a hard time. We would really press him, push him and make him work but he was always really receptive and you always felt like he was on our side.”
“I guess we were like a broken record with a lot of the things we would complain about but he never really shut down – he was always ears open and I think he did a lot of the sport. We’ll have some very nice and positive memories of him.”
“I remember my first Aussie GP in 2012, going up, I remember we were with Franz and he goes “go and introduce yourself to Charlie – it’s the start of the a new season” and start the relationship on good news.”
“Time goes fast but as Max touched on, it’s important to just appreciate it, each moment – you do take it for granted and I’m sure that we’ll all race with a lot of passion this weekend, just as a reminder that we are all well and lucky to be in this position.”
Q – Thank you all five of you. A couple more questions now to each of you, and Daniel, we’ll stay with you. Your home race, it’s always a busy build-up but how have the last few days been for you?
Daniel Ricciardo: “Busy! But it’s alright, I’m actually used to it now – it’s expected. But you know, busy is good – it means people, car and that they’re excited about the start of the season.”
“A lot of things have changed, I’ve changed team and that’s created a lot of other change within the F1 paddock and other drivers moving teams. It’s been a pretty cool and pretty busy off-season for sure. Done some activities – drove a V8 Supercar yesterday, Max was saying he was a passenger today in one so chatting a little bit about that – it’s fun.”
“Fun is when you can balance some of the not so fun media commitments with a little bit of enjoyment but now we’re getting close – we’re within 24 hours of driving the car and excited to get on track but also excited to see the pecking order. I think we could draw some conclusions from testing but not much – so, we’ll see where we stand.”
Q – Robert, coming to you. It’s your first race since 2010, can you describe your emotions heading into this weekend?
Robert Kubica: “Yeah, it has been a lot time, a long time away from the sport. Emotions….. to be honest, there is not really a lot of time to think about them, you are focused on the job, focused on the things to do – you try and learn as much as possible about the new F1.”
“Things have changed quite a lot since I was racing here last time. Just trying to prepare, trying to be ready – we didn’t have the perfect start to winter testing so there’s a lot of things that need to be checked.”
Q – Max, coming to you. The management as Red Bull Racing has been very bullish about the new package, what are your thoughts?
Max Verstappen: “I guess we’ll find out, won’t we? I think so far, we’ve had a good winter test – not too many issues and I was just very happy about how everybody was working together which I think is really important and a good start.”
“Of course, integrating the new engine into the chassis but it didn’t seem like it was giving us problems so we’re very happy about that – I could do most of my running so that was very positive in terms of performance and I think it’s very difficult to judge at the moment or to know exactly where we are.”
“I didn’t have any time to do performance runs but yeah, we’re happy with what we did and of course – there’s always things to improve and I think it can always be better. Everybody has that thought but we’ll see where we stand.”
Q – Sebastian, coming to you – fastest in winter testing. Do you feel that you’re in a better position now than you were this time last year?
Sebastian Vettel: “Yeah, quite frankly because I think that last year’s testing didn’t go well for us and we actually had some issues with the car to fix and obviously we got a bit lucky during the race weekend with the safety car to grab the win! Yeah, in this regards, we are more prepared and our car seems to work fine – no problems at this stage.”
“Having said that, obviously we can’t do better than last year’s result so it’s a tough weekend ahead of us – always the start, you’re a little bit nervous and you don’t know exactly where you are, you don’t know what’s going to happy but yeah, I think we are…. you know – the spirit is good, the atmosphere is good and we’re happy to be here and to start racing.”
Q – Lewis, difficult to read Mercedes’ testing form – what’s your take on it?
Lewis Hamilton: “I don’t think there’s much to…. it’s not difficult to read. I think it was quite clear however it’s difficult to know what everyone’s doing so naturally, we won’t fully know until we get out in the car tomorrow and come qualifying – you get a better picture, usually.”
“Over the first few races, that’s when you really get an idea of where everyone stands but we said that we have work to do and we weren’t talking BS. We have work to do.”
Q – From an internal point of view, how important has continuity been – both stability on the driving front and the technical front?
Lewis Hamilton: “On the driving front, continuity is what works. We have a great pairing and I think the contribution Valtteri and I together, it’s worked well for years and there’s no reason to change it. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.”
“In terms of the team, we’ve got so many incredible people within the team, the energy – it’s inspiring to see so many people so pumped and pulling together – the communication is better than ever and just after the test, I went back and Toto rallied the troops and we all sat together and it’s really impressive to see so many people passionate about their jobs, so passionate about racing and wanting to do a better job – always wanting to improve.”
“They’re real, true fighters within the team and I know they’re going to be giving absolutely everything to make sure that we continue to progress.”