DRIVERS – Romain GROSJEAN (Haas), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Renault), Valtteri BOTTAS (Williams), Nico HULKENBERG (Force India), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
Nico, let’s begin with you: congratulations on your first works drive in Formula One, with Renault for next season. Tell us, why is this the right move for you now and what was the clincher that made you decide to take it?
Nico HULKENBERG: Yeah, I believe that it’s the right step in my career at this point. I feel I have come a long way with Force India – it’s my fifth year with them. We’ve had some good success together. But I felt that it’s time for a new challenge. Since I’m in F1 I’ve always wanted to race for a manufacturer team and this is a really good opportunity. The timing was pretty good too. So I think it was a good decision I think from my side.
You’ve qualified in the Top 10 at the last nine consecutive races, what has been the secret of the consistency you’ve been finding recently?
NH: I think a good strong car! That always makes things easier. I feel the team has done a really good job to develop the car. The car has really become an all-rounder. If it’s a high downforce, low downforce track or low-speed, high-speed, we’re always inside the top 10 somewhere and really [we have] become a strong contender behind the top three teams and it’s just the result of some good, hard work.
Kevin, coming to you: So where does this deal leave you? As Nico’s team mate or are you likely to pursue other avenues?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: No, I hope I can stay on as his team-mate. That’s my target and that’s what I hope is going to happen. And hopefully it won’t be too long before we will be able to announce what’s going to happen – either/or – so we’ll just do this race and focus on driving and enjoying my time in the car and we’ll see what happens.
You started your F1 career with a podium, then sat out 2015 and came back this year with Renault. What are your thoughts on how your second run at F1 has gone and how the reality of Renault this year matched your expectations?
KM: I would say it has matched the expectation. We knew it was going to be a tough year, because the car that Renault took over from Lotus was very underdeveloped. Renault, at the beginning of the year, was behind on engine power; so going from a Mercedes engine to a Renault was a little bit of a step back. Renault has done a great job to improve the engine. We’ve got more out of the car but haven’t really improved it in terms of getting more downforce, because the focus has been on next year’s car back at the factory. It was going to be a transition year, where the focus was on the future and not so much on this year in terms of performance, so I think we’ve got out of it what we could.
Thanks for that. Valtteri, coming to you: what about your plans? I’m sure you’re aware that you have now broken the F1 record of Jim Clark for the longest F1 career spent entirely with a single team. Is it time to stick or twist?
Valtteri BOTTAS: I understand that stick or twist is meaning if I stay with Williams or not. We’re going to still need to wait a little bit to get things confirmed about what’s going to happen next year. But, yeah, it’s a nice fact. I’ve had a great time with the time and we’ve had some good results but I feel like there could be something more still to achieve together but let’s wait and see.
You’ve been in the points at the last two races, including a very strong run in Malaysia, but both races you’ve qualified outside the top 10. Has that surprised you?
VB: Definitely. We’ve struggled a bit in the last couple of races with the pure pace and obviously the team has focused a lot on next year’s car and we can definitely see that if some other teams are improving then it’s more tricky in certain tracks. So hopefully here it’s going to be better and I’m sure there are still good races for us this year and we just need to make sure we get everything right.
Coming to Lewis, then: the reigning world champion and four-times US grand prix winner. You’ve had a pretty busy time of it, pre-Austin, speaking with American TV – the Ellen DeGeneres show – and also the news about you appearing in the new Call of Duty game. Tell us about that and what does that say about your ability as an F1 driver to reach our beyond the sport to new audiences?
Lewis HAMILTON: Well, good morning everyone. Yeah, we were fortunate to have been on the Ellen show the other day, which was fantastic. I love being out here in the States, so this was a good opportunity for me to reach a completely new audience that perhaps… I’m pretty sure that most of the people that were in the audience, on the show, hadn’t heard of Formula One, so they were all glued to their seats to learn something new. It’s a weird thing. I don’t think anyone’s been on the Ellen show, so I’m pretty proud of it.
And the Call of Duty thing?
LH: Yeah, Call of Duty: I play that game every winter… obviously during the year but particularly in the winter, so to have got the call with the opportunity to be a part of it, I was like – absolutely. I jumped at it. So I can’t wait for this winter. A friend of mine that plays with us, he had no idea… well, he might read about it… but I haven’t told him yet that I’m in the game, so when I’m playing him in the winter and he sees me on there, he’s definitely going to lose it a little bit.
Back to the day job: 100 points available in the remaining races, you trail by 33 – clearly you need some wins to get back into it, so is Austin the ideal place to race next, given your history here. You’ve won three of the four races that have been held on this race track?
LH: Yeah, Austin has always been… America has always been a good hunting ground for me. I’ve been out here for a week already, so I’m looking forward to fighting again. This is a fantastic track. They did a very good job with the design. It’s one of the few of the newer circuits that really allows good overtaking and following of cars, which is always difficult in Formula One. Yeah, I’m here, I know the weather is going to better this weekend, so particularly for the fans that will be great and yeah, I’m excited.
It could hardly be worse than last year, could it! Thank you for that. Moving on to another former winner of this race here, 2013 US Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel. Sebastian, it seemed that Suzuka summed up Ferrari’s season in many ways: the car was fast, but through a variety of reasons wasn’t able to convert that into a podium or a shot at victory. Do you see any of the four remaining tracks, including this one obviously, as winnable?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I think there is always a chance. I think obviously in Japan we did some progress, so that was a positive, but as you said, it was probably was a good summary of our season so far. Nevertheless, I think the most important thing is that we fight, we give everything we have, and it could have been a better in Japan, it wasn’t and so we’re ready for this race.
When we were in Monza, in the press conference, you talked about the feeling of being a Ferrari driver in Monza in front of the tifosi. Of course the US has a long, long history with Ferrari, it’s the biggest market for the cars and there is a tremendous fan base here for it, so what does it feel like to be a Ferrari driver in America?
SV: Well, I had a very good race last year. Obviously we had to start a little bit further back. The weather helped us in that regard, to come back and finish on the podium, so it was a great first race with Ferrari here. As you mentioned, a huge fan base also here. Obviously, Italy is really the core, where the foundation lies, but I think everywhere around the world it’s amazing to see how much support we get. I think there are always a lot of Ferrari flags, people dressed in red and very passionate fans around the tracks, it’s great to be part of that family.
Thank for that and coming to you Romain: your 100th grand prix this weekend, how appropriate, because it’s a big weekend, the Haas Formula One team’s first home grand prix in the USA. What special arrangements does the team have, to bring workers, families and so on to the race?
Romain GROSJEAN: Yeah, we arrived Monday in Charlotte and then went to see the factory in North Carolina and went to see the NASCAR factory and did some media. Of course a lot of employees at the North Carolina factory are going to come here, which is great, as they don’t get to see us very often – the base is more in Europe – so that’s going to be good. Having my 100th grand prix here, home race for the team, is just a great thing.
You’ve had some special days here in the past as well. You come here off the back of a Japanese GP where both cars qualified in the Top 10 for the first time ever. Can you repeat that here and this time convert it into some points?
RG: Well, if I’m not in Q3 but I score points that would be good as well! In Japan we had a great qualifying and we made some good progress on the car, which is good. We had a new front wing that we could eventually run, which worked well. It’s very hard for us every time we go to a track, because we don’t have any data from the past and we don’t know where to start with the set-up, so we have to guess a little bit and it takes more time than other people to find everything correct. But we definitely will try to qualify well and then scoring points in the race would be good, because we haven’t done that for a long time?
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Seff Harding – Zero Zone News) This question’s for Lewis: Lewis, you’ve done some great work with Unicef and recently you posted on your Facebook about the trip you took to Haiti two years ago, and you also noted the aid that’s needed for Haiti right now after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. My question to you is: do you have plans to make another trip to Haiti to visit some of the devastated areas?
LH: Well, it’s good to see you again and thank you for the question. I haven’t another plan to go to Haiti, but I would love to. The trip that I had there was life-changing. To go to a country that has so much beauty but so much poverty was a huge eye-opener and obviously sad to see. But also to see the smiles on people who have so much less than all of us here. But knowing and seeing the devastation there and they don’t have the tools or the means to be able to make change and to recover from the difficult scenario they are in. That’s why we have an opportunity, us, as drivers, who have the following we have, not necessarily particularly to have to encourage people, but some people perhaps don’t know where to go to help. People are constantly on their phones, and if they see ‘oh, I didn’t know I could just go online, or by the click of a button help change someone’s life’, so that’s what I try to do. But I am working with Unicef on further plans for the future. I don’t know if it’s going to be in Haiti. If there’s a way I can get there and time for me to get there and help in any way. I don’t know what I could do, apart from taking a picture for social media, which is not really that helpful. But my thoughts and prayers are will all the families that are there.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Sebastian, we know that you’re contract expires at the end of 2017. Do you expect to start soon the negotiations with the team to extend it?
SV: Well, I think we are all fairly busy at this time to focus on the four races that are left and focus in particular to prepare for next year, so I think that’s where, honestly, the main focus lies. I don’t think it’s that important to look into details such as… my contract is all fine for next year, so as I said, with a lot of things happening back at the factory, back in Maranello, I think… I know we’re very, very busy and that’s where I want also the focus to be.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, you’ve had some great races and pole laps this year – but also a couple of more shaky weekend. How do you look back on this season as a competitor, for you, leaving aside the reliability issues?
LH: Honestly, I don’t look back. There’s very little point to look back, it’s only looking forwards. As I’ve said, there’s obviously the four races but I’ve still got hopefully some time here in my career for better days. I’m obviously aware that you can’t always have great races and it’s a long, old season. But no-one’s perfect but yeah, all I can do is work as hard as I can with the team, we’ve got a great car, a great team, there’s no reason why we can’t have more positive weekends moving forwards.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Question for Lewis. Lewis, you said previously that fans should be asking the questions and not the media. Well, there’s a fan who called himself @bigorangepaul on Twitter who’s asked, under the hashtag #fanQs4LH How will you feel if Nico wins the world championship this year? And the second question is: Have you considered when you will retire, or take a sabbatical?
LH: Thank you for the question, what’s his name? @bigorangepaul. I don’t plan on taking any sabbaticals. If I stop, I stop, that will be the plan. And, what was the other one? Oh. Try to take it like a man. It is… you can’t win them all. Look at all the world championships in the past who’ve won championships and lost championships, it is part of the game. I am in the position right now where there are still a lot of points available so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and still have the belief that anything is possible – but then I’ll move on. Once it’s decided and it happens, all I can do about it is shape the future, which is the next year. So, life will move on, we’ll go into next season and hopefully come back stronger.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Lewis, I’m sorry to come back to this subject because we saw you taking pictures now with your mobile and it was a big discussion at the last grand prix. It’s also an opportunity for you to clarify your point of view about this, let’s say, behaviour. And also, my personal question is, you think it’s fair to go in the drivers’ parade using earphones, creating a barrier to the fans, where they want you to hear them say “Lewis, we like you, Lewis we are here for you”, something like that.
LH: Well, on the drivers’ parade, you don’t realise… at the beginning of my career I would stand and… you know I have respect for every single driver here… we’d stand and we’d talk, just generally shootin’, talking about whatever, and often not noticing that there’s certain individuals in the crowd who have travelled, probably spent all their money to get to a grand prix. So I actually genuinely often stand at the front of the truck and I often have one ear off so I can generally hear people and I make sure that I connect with the people that have come out to support me, y’know? A lot of the people that have… sometimes there’s a Grenadian flag, but there’s often people, whatever country we’re in, even if it’s not their nationality they’ll have a British flag there and they’ll be waving. And if I’m talking to these guys often you’ll miss that. If I was in the grandstand having come to support someone, and I’m waving at the dude and he’s not even paying attention, I’d be pretty pissed. So that’s what I try to do. I try to connect with every single one. If you look at it, I point out to everyone, let them know that I recognise them and I appreciate it because I never in a million years thought I would ever have fans; people who consciously would decide to follow me and not the dude next to me. We all have that, and I think it’s really important that we engage with them, so I do. And then, I just took a picture just now, I waited for everyone to finish their questions and their answers. So respect me, I just took a picture. It’s a good picture, you’re all in it. So… yeah.
Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) Question for Lewis, just going back to, I think the fan’s question about Nico. You’ve been racing against him your whole life. Generally you’ve beaten him. The last two years you’ve beaten him for the championship, you’ve beaten him in karting. Does that make what’s happened this year quite hard to take – because it’s not something that’s really happened to you before?
LH: Not really. I think if you look if all things were… we’ve always been having close races, close battles. I think in all fairness to all of us here, if all things were equal in whatever our scenarios are, there would be a certain result. Obviously this year it’s obviously been a little bit different in terms of how our performances have been, particularly mechanically. And there’s nothing you can do about that. But, out of the ten times the car has been good – whatever it is – I’ve often done the job with it but then there definitely has been a few that, probably in the first few seconds of the race have not gone that well. But that’s motor racing.
Q: (Tony Di Zimo – NBC Sports) Question for Lewis, after Japan, Mercedes clinched the third the third consecutive Constructors’ Championship. Can you describe what it felt inside the factory when you guys had the celebration and just how difficult that achievement is to accomplish?
LH: Good question. Honestly, it’s kind-of daunting when you go back to the two factories because there’s so many people. I remember joining the team and having to stand… they’re like “we want to introduce you to everyone,” and having to stand in front of 800 people at the first place and then 500 people at the next place and speak to them. That’s always a difficult thing. But then, after you’ve grown to know everyone and you’ve gone on the journey that I have with this team and reached the success, it’s an incredibly proud moment for us to stand up there and show our appreciation – because those guys are not travelling like us but they are working crazy hours to enable us to get off the line, to be up the front and win these championships. And it takes a huge amount of work for these people to come together and every single individual operate at the best they can possibly do. I remember joining this team and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the majority of the people that were in here, said that it wasn’t the right decision. I had the belief that this team would really go somewhere and I’ve been a part of that journey and very proud of it. It was incredible. Everyone was just so happy – and now they’re turning all of those energies to next year.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) A question for Seb. Considering the last upgrades on the car, are you confident that Ferrari finally found a direction to follow from now to 2017? And what about strategies, is there something to correct?
SV: About strategies, no, I don’t think so. I think… I’m guessing you’re referring to the last race… it’s one of those things with hindsight, it’s always easier to analyse but, in the moment I think where we were, we were in third, probably fourth place, because we didn’t have the pace that Lewis had from behind, so I don’t think there was much focus, I know that the there wasn’t much focus at that time on him, the main focus was to get second initially with Max. And we tried something different. It might have worked – and then you come out as the hero. In that case, it didn’t work, so it’s fine. We can live with that. The first question… for the new parts, yeah, I think it was a step forward, both Kimi and myself, we liked it straight away. I think it gave us quite good performance in Japan. Japan usually is quite a good test for the overall performance of the car, so here you can argue it’s similar in some ways. The first sector has a lot of fast corners as well, the last sector is a little bit slower but overall, yeah, it gave us a good indication for this year and then there’s always some things that you learn. Next year the rules are changing quite a lot – but still, every bit you understand about the car and how it works will help you also for the future.
Q: (Frank Schneider – Bild) Question to Lewis, we saw you last week with some trouble with your feet. You weren’t able to drive at the Barcelona test. Are you 100 per cent? And what happened?
LH: I am 100 per cent, yeah, feeling great. I basically had an injury that I’ve been carrying generally all year long, in both feet. Just induced by running. Unfortunately the physio said that it just takes a lot of stretching and it just heals over a long time. At the time I woke up in the morning, I was feeling quite a lot of pain the day before, and it hadn’t diminished, so there was very little… the most important thing was to be fresh for here and feeling better for here. This is actually the first week that it’s felt good.
Q: (Will Buxton – NBC Sports) Lewis made the point in the last press conference in Japan that these press conferences needed changing in their format because they’d grown stale and a bit dull, so to the guys who haven’t answered anything in about the last 25 minutes – so that’s the back row and Nico Hülkenberg – what’s your current level of boredom and do you think this afternoon could be better spent?
You’re smiling the most Romain, so you start.
RG: Aw, thanks! It’s been great fun. I took a picture with a brand I’m not allowed to touch because I’m a Microsoft ambassador…
RG: I may get in trouble with that! I’m just using the jet-lag. No, it’s not ideal, as a matter of fact, when you’re at the back and we don’t have any question. But we know it – but it’s how it goes. Maybe there’s room for improvement. Just keeping quiet.
Nico, you’re at the front, how does it feel?
NH: Yeah, quiet today. He takes the main questions, easy job for me.
VB: Yeah, easy. Tomorrow anyway is the day we’re all looking forward to. This day anyway isn’t going to go any quicker, so I’m good.
And finally Kevin.
KM: Yeah, it could be better. But that’s how it is.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, just to bring you up on social media. Just curious really. You’ve taken to blocking journalists on Twitter. Not sure your reasons why, we’ve been fairly supportive of you during your early career. I wondered why.
LH: That’s something that’s just been brought to me. I don’t actually manage every single part of my social media. I have a couple of other people that do. Our general approach is that if you see something, see someone generally talking smack then you kind of cut it. I’d flown back from Asia and then I got a message afterwards… I don’t know who has been blocked or not… I don’t have any particular feeling for it… I don’t have a lot of time to go online and do that. I don’t think it was just media. It was a lot of people got… I think it was a blocking-spree. I don’t even have… if you look at my phone I don’t even have the app, I don’t really do my Tweets. So…
Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action, SpeedSport) Valtteri, you say the car has not had the pace recently. Looking in the long term, do you think Williams has the structure and the resources to consistently fight with the works teams?
VB: I think… like I’ve said, many many times, I definitely think Williams can do a lot better than what we’ve seen for example this year. Two years back was a lot better, it was definitely not yet maximised really, every single bit, so there is potential. Definitely it is out there, the facilities. Team Haas, they are good, good to fight with the works teams but it’s tricky. It’s a massively competitive sport and everyone is pushing so hard, investing more and more but so also is Williams at the moment, trying to get some new interesting people and really trying to push forward. Obviously always when there is a rules change, there is always a great opportunity for every team to catch up, if you’ve let back a little bit. Yeah, I think we can do a lot lot better than this but we will see.
Q: (Jonathan Green – SpeedCity) Lewis, again from the fans on Speedcast, on Twitter. We lost, here in the States, two great icons: one a sportsman in Mohammed Ali and obviously Prince and I wonder, given your interest in the States, how much those two people were any influence on you as a sportman and as somebody in the public eye?
LH: Yeah, for me growing up, those two… as soon as I could remember hearing music, my Dad was always playing Prince so I grew up on that music and still today… Some of the races I’ve won this year, I’ve been listening to Prince, even before his passing.
SV: What, during the race?
LH: No, no, before the races, you know? Yeah, the beautiful thing about music is that it lives on so the great thing is that he’s left us a legacy that we can always… it’s timeless. And then when Mohammed Ali, absolutely as a sportsman who defied odds and stood for what he truly believed and was a remarkable man. I had the pleasure of meeting him but unfortunately the disease was too far gone at the time so I didn’t really get to have a conversation with him. I was hoping that I could be in the position that we could have a bit of banter and hear some of the comments that he wouldn’t normally say but still it was an amazing experience to meet him. He is truly missed. I think two races ago, I was watching Rumble in the Jungle, just because that… and some of the experiences he had are inspiring and we can all apply to whatever issues or situations we’re going through in our day-to-day life.
Q: (Jim Vertuno – AP) Sebastian, Lewis is hopeful with four races left that he can catch Nico. In what you’ve seen on the track and your experience, is it realistic?
SV: Of course. It’s realistic because I think he’s quick enough. It’s realistic because there’s a lot of points to get and I think it would be quite bad if you quit now. If I could swap, I would immediately and go for it, so I’m sure that he goes for it and four races is a lot of laps to do, a lot of things that can happen so it’s only over when it’s over.
Q: (Ralf Bach – Sport Bild) Nico, we could hear you saying on the radio after passing Valtteri ‘see you later’ in Japan. So what did you mean? See you later in the race or maybe see you later at Renault next year?
NH: No, I didn’t mean that actually. It just came naturally, a couple of seconds after the pass, I was just pleased with the move on him, just came out.
SV: Why would you want to see him again, though?
NH: Exactly, why would I?
Q: (Silva Arias – Parabrisas) Nico, congratulations for this step forward. Tell me please, which are the main things do you expect to have at Renault which you didn’t have at Force India?
NH: Well, I think them being a manufacturer, they are under some expectations to eventually be successful and be at the front and compete for wins and that’s obviously what I’m looking for. We know at the moment there is still a long journey ahead of them, to climb back to the top because it’s been a difficult year and where they’ve come from, when they bought Lotus last year was not the easiest situation so it will take time to rebuild the team and to get back to the top but obviously what I see there is a good future, definitely a big challenge, a massive challenge but I’m very much up for that and why not build a new success story with them?
Q: (Leigh Diffey – NBC Sports) Romain, we’re the host broadcaster here in the United States so week in, week out we’re talking about you a lot, we’re talking about Haas a lot. We always preface the team ‘America’s Formula One team’. Tell our audience, tell the fans what life’s like in America’s Formula One team for the first time in 30 years because it’s a big deal for us and for our viewers?
RG: Yeah, it is. It’s great to be here. Everyone is very much looking forward. I think it’s an extra pride to be wearing the American flag on the car and having the Haas name, Gene with Haas formation, Stewart-Haas racing and now Haas… it’s got a huge story, huge successful life. I think it’s a big name and here in the US is quite special so hopefully a good race for us and a good result.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Lewis, based on what you’ve just said to Ben about social media and you not managing it, this is my question, not a fan’s question but I’m sure the fans would like to know…
LH: There’s obviously several platforms so I’m not consciously doing every single platform all the time so I still have a lot of people who help me because it’s quite a big job.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) … so is there a chance though that some of the opinions that are expressed are not your own opinions on there? I’m sure the fans would like to know.
LH: No, not at all. Every single thing that’s said is generally… I can either send it if I’ve not got it… for example time to post it or if it’s not the right time of course I can write it, send it and one of my team will post it when it’s the right time.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – Globo Esporte.com) Sebastian, one of the reasons Ferrari is getting better results recently is that the team is developing the car while other teams in the second part of the season, as far as you know, no, they are concentrated on next year’s project. The question is, what is this development for and considering the knowledge you have now, can you use next year’s car more? The limitation of forty hours wind tunnel combined with cfd is there for this year’s car and next year’s car so it means are you using space of next year’s car in this existing car? Your comment please?
SV: Well, thank you for the lesson but I think I know the rules particularly well and so does the team so I think everything that we brought this year to the car has always been the plan to be brought to the car and I think everything that we brought made sense. I don’t think that we’re the only ones still bringing bits to the car. I think it’s normal in this time that if you’re not fighting actively for the championship obviously your main focus is on next year, given the demands of the rules that are changing but I still see the point in going round, I see the point of going to the next four races, not just to try and win and be successful and be there and fight, but also to learn about this year’s car which ultimately will help you also with next year’s car. I think every lap that we spend we try to spend wisely, we try to do the right thing in order to maximise the moment but in particular, looking forward to next year. So thanks for the lesson again. I am well aware of the hours and how they are split and so on but as I said, I’m confident we’re doing the right thing.
Q: (Samuel Reiman – Fox Sports) Lewis, turn one, it’s a long run up to the first corner at this track. Obviously starts have been one of your difficulties this year it would seem. Does that concern you for this weekend’s race and have you been able to make any progress throughout the season with your starting procedure?
LH: It has been an ongoing thing all year long. There’s been a lot of changes, a lot of work, perhaps more than in other areas. I was at the factory last week and we were working very hard to cover up all areas so we hope that we have a slightly better formula this weekend. If not then there will be a better formula next weekend, but it is something that… I definitely feel that we’re in a better position so fingers crossed for Sunday.
Q: (Kevin Lyttle – Austin American Statesman) Kevin and Valtteri, this track here has had some financial issues recently with damage from the storms and things like that. How do you think it stacks up and the city of Austin stacks up as an F1 stop. And the second question would be what’s the most interesting thing you guys have done in Austin?
KM: The most interesting thing was the race last time I was here in 2014. But it’s also a great city, it’s a really cool city for Sunday night, it’s good for partying and other things as well: good restaurants. It’s great to hang out here but it’s a great race as well and it’s good to see American fans. It’s not often you see American fans at other tracks so it’s quite special here. So yeah, I think it’s a great race and it definitely deserves a place on the calendar.
VB: Yeah, for me, overall this Grand Prix is a lot of fun. It’s a great track to drive. I think all the drivers really like the circuit and obviously a lot of support from the fans as well in here and just next door there is a great city like Austin with plenty of things to do and such a nice feeling in the city, so overall it is one of the best Grand Prix weekends in the calendar in my opinion. And the coolest thing I’ve done here? I think it was last year, it was not in Austin but it was in Georgetown, just next door. I had an opportunity to visit the police department in there so I spent the day with the local police and they showed me their work. I got to drive a police car around the track and everything. I beat their best lap time, by the way in their training circuit. That was a lot of fun.