DRIVERS – Sergio PEREZ (Force India), Pastor MALDONADO (Lotus), Daniil KVYAT (Red Bull Racing), Max VERSTAPPEN (Toro Rosso), Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Felipe MASSA (Williams)
If we could start with a general question to all of you: obviously the story in Monaco, of the race, was triggered by the safety car and here in Montreal 11 of the last 17 races have featured at least one and as many as four safety cars. Can you speak about what your first thought is, as a driver, what kind of communication you have with the team at that time and what are the most important things to take care of from a driver’s point of view? Felipe, maybe you could start.
Felipe MASSA: Well, I think, first of all, it depends on the track. You have some tracks that you have more possibility of accident, or are more difficult, more easy to have a contact or crashes or low grip from the asphalt, which is like Monaco. Maybe here a bit more, a bit better, but with all these chicanes, with the wall nearby, so it’s very easy to have an accident or to crash – I know very well from my past, especially from last year. But I think you always need to be very close to your team, understanding everything happening in the race, the safety car and the strategy. The communication counts always and you can gain position or maybe get a good strategy if you are doing things in the proper way.
Sergio, what do you like to make sure you take care of at a time like that?
Sergio PEREZ: I think it’s important to make your team make the decisions. Don’t speak too much at certain points of the race, for example if there is a critical situation with the safety car out. This track, for example, it’s quite easy to have a crash, every single lap there is a risk. There are certain corners where you can simply not do any mistake, and if you do a mistake you will definitely end up in the wall. This track is one you should definitely take care of for the whole race.
Max, as a rookie, what’s the first thing that goes through your mind when you hear that the safety car has deployed?
Max VERSTAPPEN: It also depends on where you are on track, where you qualified. For sure, here for me will be an interesting race. I will have to hope for a safety car. Depends also how hard the track is for the tyres. All those things you take [into account] before you make a decision and you also talk to your team quite a lot because they have a lot of data and they see where you are on the track compared to other competitors.
Lewis, your thoughts on it? What do you like to take care of when you hear that the safety car has been deployed?
Lewis HAMILTON: I think you just have to stay cool and follow the procedures that you know and also the feedback that the team gives you.
Pastor MALDONADO: Yeah, maybe it’s a very crucial moment for the race – not only for the driver, but also for the [pit] wall, for the team. The strategy can change immediately, so you must be very alert for whatever is the team call and, yeah, respect the procedures and trying to gain places.
Daniil, final word?
Daniil KVYAT: Well, as you hear the safety car is out, I think you just speak with the team, what’s happening around you and rely [on them] because they know all the gaps with the other cars and so on. And then you make a decision, together with the team, and then once you stay out or anything else, it’s a calm period, you just look after the temperature of the tyres and nothing else.
OK, thank you for that. Coming back to you Max, a big crash in Monaco and you’re carrying a five-place grid penalty this weekend in Montreal as a result. What did you learn from that whole episode, that experience, and how do you evaluate your performance overall during that Monaco weekend?
MV: I learned the cars are pretty strong. I was happy about that, that I didn’t have any injuries. I’m happy… I didn’t have any problems after that, I went go-karting on Wednesday, so I was fit again. Yeah, I will have some work to do on this track, but I think it will not change me as a racing driver. I will keep fighting and especially when you want to fight for points, I will still go for it.
Lewis, coming to you, obviously it’s been a happy hunting ground for you over the years: three poles, your first ever victory, from pole, in Formula One, back in 2007, three wins in total. Is this the ideal place, then, for you to bounce back from what must have been an extremely painful experience two weeks ago in Monaco?
LH: It’s a good track. As you said, I had my first grand prix win here, so generally always been relatively quick here. More so, just to have a better weekend than we had last year here. So that’s the target.
Daniil, coming to you, a career-best fourth last time out. How much of a confidence boost was that result for you in Monaco? One interesting stat for you is that you’ve yet to finish the finish the first lap of a race this season in the same position you started, so maybe you’d like to say a little bit about that?
DK: Yeah, I mean, the Monaco race was a very good race. We had a clean weekend all day long. I think we saw as a team how important it is to have a clean weekend and, yeah, we grabbed quite a lot of points as a team as well. I hope it is a very good confidence boost for all of us in the team, that’s what we needed, and now we hope to keep growing from there onwards. I hope it’s going to bring us something else in the future.
Pastor, your run of bad luck seems to have continued – now five retirements from six races. What’s the team saying to you and what is your mindset going into this weekend?
PM: Yeah we have been very unlucky, especially because we have been having a few different problems during the races, but on the other hand we have a competitive car, which gives us the opportunity to try again and do our best. Let’s re-try again this weekend. This should be a good track, a good opportunity for us. I’ve been always fighting for the points before the problems we had, so there is not any point to don’t do it from now to the rest of the season.
Felipe, coming to you: on a positive note, you’ve got over double the points at this stage, after six races, that you had in 2104 at the same stage. But looking at your record here, why is it that Canada has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for you?
FM: I don’t know, so many things happened on this track with me, to be honest. I always drove pretty well here. I was always having competitive races. So I hope this will be the good one.
OK, and Sergio, finally with you, obviously you matched Force India’s best result of the season so far in Monaco, with seventh. You were running second here in the closing stages last year before the accident Felipe mentioned and you were on the podium, back in 2012, so what are you feelings on this track?
SP: This track is definitely one that I really enjoy: it’s just like driving on a karting track. I really, really enjoy this place, doing a lap, having a race here. It’s quite demanding mentally, because, as I said before, it’s a track where it is very easy to make a mistake. I have had a couple of good runs here; as you say back in 2012 I was on the podium. Last year I was very close to win the race but unfortunately later in the race I had some issues and then the contact with Felipe came but up to that point it was a great race and so close to actually win the race. I hope… this year we are in a different position, but we can definitely make it into the points.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Question for Lewis. Lewis, this is the first time that you meet the team after Monaco. How as the atmosphere in the team, and did you learn a lesson, maybe not to complain any more during the race, the tyres, and maybe stay a little bit more cooler in the race and don’t make the people, the strategy staff, have a Plan B that could be dangerous for you?
LH: Okey Dokey. No, things are good with the team. Excited to move on to this weekend. So, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing because that’s done pretty good for me up until now.
Q: (Dave Stubbs – Montreal Gazette) Lewis, how much of this track becomes muscle memory for you? When a driver does really well on a track, is it easy for you just to be able to arrive here and visualize what you need to do or is it a re-education for you every time you arrive here?
LH: It’s not a re-education but it’s kind of… you have to re-boost or re-awaken your mind to remember what the circuit is like. But you’re always trying to improve every time you come here. You’re always trying to be faster. There’s always areas in which you can improve. For example, last year’s qualifying wasn’t strong enough here. There are areas where… I didn’t finish the race in the end so there’s things we’ve learnt from that weekend so we should be stronger here naturally this weekend. But I’ve generally been strong over here over the years – but I can be faster. So that’s the plan this weekend.
Q: (Helmut Uhl – Bild) How would you describe the confidence level to the team right now?
LH: Same as always. 100 per cent.
Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) Lewis, in Monaco, in the immediate aftermath of it all, you were asked ‘can you put it into words how you feel?’ You said you couldn’t because it was all so raw at the time. Looking back now, can you put into words how it felt and how you then subsequently got over the events of Sunday?
LH: First of all, I don’t look back. I’m looking forwards, so honestly I don’t really… I have not thought about the last race for a long time and I’ve just really been thinking about the next race, putting my mind to other things, training and trying to come back strong this weekend. So, it’s really irrelevant what happened in the past now. There’s nothing you can do about it so there’s no point dwelling on it.
Q: (Graham Keilloh – Grand Prix Times) I’ve got a question for all of the drivers. Jacques Villeneuve in recent days spoke in support of a tyre war returning to F1. I wondered what each of you thought about the possibility of more tyre suppliers competing with each other, whether it would improve things or not.
Felipe, you remember the tyre wars from the last time. Would you welcome a return?
FM: For sure, when we had the big fight between the tyre suppliers it was amazing the grip we had on the tyres. It was really… I mean all the companies were giving the best they could, y’know? So, I think when you have only one company, whatever they’re doing it’s the same for everybody. It’s the same for every driver so for sure they can spend less money on that, y’know? For the driving point of view, for sure it was better before but for the money point of view I think it maybe was too expensive. Especially now. How it’s going in Formula One. For sure it would be too expensive. So, I’m not so sure it will happen. I don’t think so to be honest.
Your thoughts Lewis – and also maybe its impact on overtaking – does it make it easier or harder?
LH: I don’t think I was… I never really got to drive when it was a tyre war but I agree with Felipe in the sense that I can only imagine one manufacturer… they’re always pushing technology and that’s naturally what the sport is about. When you have one manufacturer there’s no need to push the technology. That’s how all of us teams… we’re always pushing each other. Everyone wants to get faster and get better and improve and naturally that’s what happens if you have a tyre war.
MV: I don’t have a lot of experience with that. I think it’s always good to go to the limit of something, and also with the tyres it’s exactly the same. Try to push each other forwards and improve the tyres again. I think that would be great to see again. We’ll see, maybe it happens one day.
Sergio, do you have any thoughts?
SG: Yeah, of course I never experienced that. I think there is definitely room to improve the tyre that we have. The way we have it right now. If it’s good for the sport I will definitely be in favour of that.
PM: Yes, I agree. I mean, it’s always fun to see competition everywhere in Formula One. Not only from the teams, drivers, different supplier and maybe the tyres will be great fun. But we need to think. Not only about the competition, even about the cost. As everyone knows the budgets and the sponsors and the economic situation of Formula One now is not the best, not the greatest – so it’s a point to argue maybe.
Daniil, final thought.
DK: I don’t know really. To be honest if we have one supplier that gives us just a very strong tyre with good grip, I think it’s fine. If you have two different suppliers and one does a much better job than the other, then probably there is disadvantage for some teams and advantage for another. So, it can always go one way or another.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Two questions for Lewis; the first is about the engines. You have a fresh engine here but without using a token. You don’t use a token and Ferrari have new engines which the advantage of three tokens. Do you believe that Ferrari can be a little bit more dangerous than usual here? And the second question, coming back to Monaco, if you don’t have any complaint – if you don’t feel yourself there are some complaints about yourself, your behaviour during the race?
LH: I don’t know what Ferrari have done so I have to assume that they have improved. For us, we’ve just improved reliability. We still have a fantastic engine so I feel quite confident going into the weekend but naturally, Ferrari have been fast in the previous races so they should be fast this weekend. And… really happy how I did the last race.
Q: (Leigh Diffey – NBC Sports) Max, up until you crashed in Monaco, your first Monaco weekend was phenomenal, finishing just a tenth and a half off Lewis in FP1, your qualifying etc, so if you had the chance to turn back time and do it all over again on that lap when you were approaching Romain, what would you do differently?
MV: Not much.. I was attacking, I wanted those points, especially after the pit stop we had. I don’t know. Maybe turn a bit earlier to the right, try to avoid it a bit more and maybe try to do it another lap again. I don’t think there were so many things I had to do differently, up until then.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Felipe and Max; Felipe, in the aftermath of the crash in Monaco that brought out the safety car you said a few things about Max and about young drivers and the dangers of inexperienced drivers on the track. Do you stand by that and Max, what’s your response to what Felipe said?
FM: First of all, I said when I had the interview after the race, he was not penalised and they asked me what I thought and I said ‘I think he needs to be penalised because what he did was wrong.’ So that’s what I said and I think, especially when you’re in your first year, 17-years old and if you do something like that and you’re not penalised, it’s completely wrong. I think the FIA needs to be strong in a proper way which is what they did actually, that’s the only thing I said and I don’t change my mind. That’s what I believe. We need to follow the rules. I said what he did was wrong. That’s what I said.
MV: Well, everybody can have their opinion, that’s the first thing but I looked at my data, I didn’t brake any later. I have braked later in the race before that but on the lap I crashed, it was exactly the same lap as the lap before and I got my penalty. I’m focusing on Canada right now and maybe you should review the race from last year and see what happened there.
Q: Are you clear what you got the penalty for ‘though?
MV: Well, you know I have my own view when we discussed it with the team. I don’t think there’s any reason to look back at Monaco and just focus on Canada like I said and we’ll try to score some points again and I will not change my driving style.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Max, I would like to know if you expected Carlos Sainz to be as strong as he is because he’s doing very well as well and he’s a rookie like you? What is your feeling about him and his performances?
MV: He’s a very good driver, he won 3.5 last year and so he was doing a good job. We are pushing each other forward and that’s also something that’s very good for the team.
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports) Felipe, just picking up on what Max said there; we’re not drivers here so help us out. I kind of assume that you’re saying that Max needed a penalty in Monaco because he was the guy behind Romain and crashed into him. So what is the difference between what happened in Monaco to Max and what happened to you with Sergio here last year?
FM: I think it was a little bit different, no? I was on the side and he moved the car on braking so… I don’t think Grosjean moved the car on braking, no? But he was before the braking as well, here, what’s happened.
Q: (Gaetan Vigneron – RTBF) Lewis, sorry to come back a last time to Monaco. There are two parts in my question: could you have over-ruled your team decision and when you stopped at Portier, in your mind, was it a real possibility to do like Senna a couple of years ago, to go directly to your flat?
LH: No. There’s going to be a lot of questions about Monaco. I’m really not going back to Monaco. I’ve moved on. I don’t even have to think about it. I’m literally moving on. I couldn’t care less about it, I’m literally focused on… I can’t do anything about the past so there’s honestly no point in thinking about it. It’s about trying to shape the future. I’ve got lots and lots of races to come, lots of improvements that can be made, I’ve got a great team, got a great car and there’s a championship to be won so that’s all I’m focused on. Doesn’t matter what I feel or had felt or feel now because actually I don’t feel anything about. I’m literally thinking about this race, I’m excited, I feel good, I feel fit, I feel strong so all positives.
Q: While respecting that, it would be good to know the second part of the question about Portier, why you stopped at Portier?
LH: I know there would be but there is no answer to it.
Q: (Daniel Johnson – The Telegraph) Lewis, on the subject of looking forward there, do you have full trust in the strategic calls that the team make and do you feel that for the following races there’s any need to change any procedures you may or may not have at the moment?
LH: No, I think I answered the question early on: I have full trust and confidence in the team so… We’ve won, we’ve had pretty incredible successful together. One race doesn’t dent the solid foundation that we’ve got.