PART ONE: DRIVERS – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), Romain GROSJEAN (Haas), Lance STROLL (Williams), Jolyon PALMER (Renault)
Q: Valtteri, we’ll begin with you. Second win and, more importantly, in the last four races Hamilton 53 points, Vettel 67, Ricciardo 70, Bottas 73. You must feel you’ve got some real momentum now in your campaign to be World Champion.
Valtteri BOTTAS: Definitely got some good momentum now. We’ve been having strong races – as a team – and the car seems to be getting better and better and I feel the same, the same for me really. It’s still my first year with the team and always getting to know the team better. It always helps with everything and, of course, every single lap you get more comfortable with the new cars etcetera. So just try to continue the good run with a good weekend here.
Q: Jolyon, F1 Live London yesterday, you were there in your Renault retro getup celebrating the 40th anniversary of the company’s F1 debut. What did you think of the event and what it says about Formula One and its place in this country?
Jolyon PALMER: It was awesome. So many people there, in my home city as well so it was really cool. I think it was the first time anything like that has been done. It was great to see almost all the drivers there. So many people, different cars through the eras as well, it was great fun for me to drive up there. So, it was great. I’m sure it was such a success that, from my point of view, there’ll be a lot more of it in the future.
And the retro look?
JP: I liked it. It was 1977 car and wearing the retro overalls. It was nice to try something different as well, try different cars.
Q: Lance, three straight points finishes including, of course, the podium in Baku. How much did the afterglow from that podium help you to feel really settled here in Formula One?
Lance STROLL: It was a great result, yeah the last few races have been good. Just getting more experience in the car, feeling more comfortable every time I get in the car. I think it’s really just been a good three races. The podium was the highlight of the season, that’s for sure. Crazy race, we just stayed in it all the way until to the end and took home a great podium. It’s given me a lot of confidence for sure, knowing that I can be there and fight. It was a great day – but got to keep going.
Q: Romain, another great result in Austria, built on strong qualifying and a fantastic start. So the car – and you – are capable of the results but what will it take to find consistency.
Romain GROSJEAN: Afternoon. I don’t really know. I think a lot of people don’t know, when things happen in a bit of a strange way – like Williams in qualifying in Austria, where they were in Q1 when they are normally always in Q3. We went well. We got everything to work. Tyres, we know we’ve got a good platform. I guess experience is the key and we’re only 28 grands prix in our life for Haas F1 Team. There are things we need to improve and understand but when everything is working well we’ve got a very strong package.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) A question for Lance, Romain and Jolyon after Valtteri’s brilliant start in Austria seven days ago – how many of you think he anticipated the lights and got away with it and how many think it was an absolutely brilliant reaction from him and could you do any better?
RG: He didn’t jump the start. Did he anticipate the start? For sure. 100 per cent.
JP: It sure looks like a jump but I’m sure he anticipated it perfectly.
LS: For sure it was on the limit – but he got away with it. So, it’s all good.
Valtteri, your right to respond.
VB: Waiting for the lights to go out. I don’t know. With starts, doing starts and starts you just kind of know always, more or less, when they’re going to go off and, you know, sometimes you can try and be a bit more risky and this was definitely a risky one but it paid off because it’s an absolutely perfect start. Nothing more to say.
Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Valtteri, how did it feel to be the only Mercedes driver yesterday at the London event. Were you disappointed that Lewis wasn’t there with you?
VB: I think everyone has the right to decide which kind of events you attend to and, you know, I’m not really the one to answer that – I don’t really know his schedule. So, for me, it’s absolutely fine. And although I was the only team member there it was still all good. I did enjoy the event myself, it was a great event in general, especially for the fans to get so close to F1 and see, in a different way, Formula One. And also a great experience for me, y’know? Never drove a Formula One car before in Central London so that was really cool. So yeah, even though I was alone it was really good for me.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Valtteri, I’m amazed to hear you say there’s a risk element to the start. Are you saying that there’s a little bit of a gamble, that you might actually jump it, you do try to anticipate it? Or do you actually… are you talking about a risk of how quickly you can react to the lights going out? What do you actually mean by that?
VB: Well, having a start like that definitely you need to gamble a little bit. If you’re moving exactly at the same point the lights go off you definitely need to be a bit on the risky side rather than safe side. Everyone is obviously free to try and kind of guess when the lights go off.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Question for Romain. You’re into your second year with Haas, last year we talked about the possibility of you perhaps trying a NASCAR. Now that you’re cemented in the team and you’ve got a month’s break coming up and there’s Watkins Glen road course coming, any chances of you going on holiday in the States…
RG: No. The schedule’s getting tight. I wish we’d had a NASCAR yesterday in London. We didn’t have a car so it would have been fun to drive a NASCAR around London – but to be fair, if we do it, we need to do it properly and I need to get a test before, get used to the brake, for example, and see how it goes.
Q: (Rob Harris – AP) Question to Valtteri. You said on the London event that everyone has their own right to decide whether to attend or not. First of all, why did you decide to attend when obviously Lewis Hamilton didn’t. And do you think that drivers have an obligation to go to these events, particularly at a time when the sport says it’s trying to reach out to new fans, and one of the biggest names in the sport in this country thought he’d go on holiday instead?
VB: Well, basically, when I first heard about this event and that it was most-likely going to happen, they asked all the drivers to attend and I immediately said yeah, I could attend – and also my team was asking me to attend, so I knew it was just before Silverstone, in the same country, so for me it was all OK.
Q: (Rachel Brookes – Sky Sports F1) To all four of you really. I know you get a lot of call on your time anyway as it is – but an event like that, the day before Silverstone, has that given you guys a lift? Are you glad you went to it? The looks on your faces look like you really enjoyed it – so has it given you a boost coming into the weekend?
LS: I think it was a great event for everyone. For the fans, for us drivers something different. I don’t think it gives us a boost but I think it was a good day and I’m fully on board with more of those days to hopefully come in the future.
JP: I think it’s nice. It’s my home crowd as well so it’s probably especially nice for me. It’s a bit like Goodwood really. You see fans up close to the cars, they’re all very happy and it kind of makes you happy as well. It was fun.
VB: Like I said before I thought it was great. Great event and I was happy. Happy that I could make it. It was good fun.
RG: Same thing. I was very happy that I was there. We didn’t have a car but I enjoyed the show, seeing others cars, seeing the McLaren, the Renault, the old V12, the old V6 and then some of the Red Bulls, and donuts in London! Then I was pretty amazed when we went on stage, to see so many people. It was just a great show. Good to see that most of us went.
Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Question to anyone who wants to answer really. Back-to-back races, it’s quite important, I thought, to get momentum. Any of you taken a holiday in between back-to-back races – and do you think it’s a good idea.
JP: No and no.
RG: My kids are on holiday – so it’s no holiday for me at all.
Lance, obviously it’s a fairly new experience for you. How does it feel to have consecutive weekends?
LS: Yeah, sure, it’s a busy week. The London Live on Wednesday – but I took a few days to myself, Monday, Tuesday.
Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) To all of you, to the previous question about Wednesday. What other places would you like to see the F1 Live events held?
Lance? I guess you’re going to say Montreal…
LS: Yeah, that would be great. I think the big cities. Wherever we go where there’s a good crowd and people can turn up. I think it’s good for everyone.
RG: Paris would be good – especially with the French Grand Prix coming back next year – but I guess New York, L.A. Could be some pretty amazing cities to have an event.
VB: Nastola, Finland! My home town. If I could choose.
JP: Drive down to Clapham! Just shift it down.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) To the other three drivers, whether or not you think in terms of taking a gamble, trying to anticipate the start, or whether you rely on your reflexes for the lights to go out – bearing in mind the penalty of jumping a start?
Romain, you took off like a rocket on Sunday. What’s your answer?
RG: No, I normally don’t gamble. I think about it but I just normally react to the lights.
JP: I think if you gamble nine times out of ten you will get it wrong, to be honest. I think everyone’s normally waiting for the lights to go out.
LS: I’m no different. I just go when the lights go off.
Out of interest, do you practice this? Do you have lights that go out? A digital thing that you can practice it on?
JP: My engineer’s been practising on a little clicky computer now, I think ever since Valtteri last weekend.
And what’s the fastest you can do it?
JP: 0.03, wasn’t it?
LS: I’m not sure, I don’t really look at my numbers.
And you Romain?
RG: I’m normally within two and three tenths but I wouldn’t play much.
Q: (Rifa Uddin – Renaissance Foundation) My question is to all of you. What advice would you give to a younger generation that are interested in Formula One?
LS: Make sure that you think about it because it’s an interesting world. It’s a very unique business. I think y’know, obviously, you need to work hard at whatever you’re doing in Formula One. You need to follow your dreams and always believe you can get there. At the end of the day that’s what’s important.
JP: To be a Formula One driver’s extremely tough. If someone’s very interested the only way is to have a go. But also, I think it’s worth bearing in mind most people in Formula One are not drivers. They are also mechanics, and engineers, and catering and marketing. If you’re interested in Formula One, then there’s a lot of avenues to go for.
VB: I always think that definitely having goals in your career, whether it is to be a driver or in general, or a mechanic in Formula One, always to have a goal. It really makes you work harder every day for it. Anything’s always possible in life so always good to set a goal.
RG: It’s a good summary by the guys. Don’t give up on the dream. I lost Formula One once and I dreamt of coming back and I managed to come back, so that’s the key.
Q: (Stephen Camp – Paddock Magazine) You all looked to enjoy yourselves yesterday at the show but has Liberty Media come to all four of you and the rest of the paddock about any other events that you would like to put on or any ideas that you have for the sport in general.
VB: Not yet, haven’t heard anything more.
Q: (Iolande Skinner – Motorsport Monday) Question for Romain, after such a great result in Austria, how’s this affected your confidence in yourself and also in the car?
RG: I think, y’know, confidence, the key’s not to lose it at any time. We’ve all had good races, bad races but I believe in your career you need to believe in yourself. If not, there’s almost no point turning in. The car… well the car, it’s a girl and she’s a bit up and down, y’know? Decides which mood she wants to come in. Hopefully she’s still in a good mood and we’ll have a good weekend here.
Q: (Tony Dodgins – Channel 4) What with the London Live event and talk about a possible, potential street race in the future in London, obviously Silverstone has talked about exercising a break clause after 2019. How sad would you all be to see Silverstone not part of the F1 schedule? How important is it to you guys?
JP: Well, for me it’s very important. This is where I probably grew my passion for Formula One, so it’s been my local track, my home track for my home life. I first came here in the ’90s and got a real passion for it and now the history and tradition here are pretty big. A London race would also be very cool – but I think Silverstone is also quite important for Formula One.
VB: I agree really. I would be also really sad not to race here. It is a track everyone loves and I personally think it’s one of the best venues for the fans. The atmosphere here is really special. Formula One definitely needs the British Grand Prix, because of all the history and most of the teams are based here. But if not here then hopefully for example central London but, yeah…
LS: I think it would be a shame not to be racing at Silverstone anymore. I think there is so much history here. It’s great for the fans, it’s one of the best races, although I’ve never participated in it before, but the crowd really gets into it and it’s probably one of the best races of the year so it would definitely be a shame to lose it.
Q: And Romain?
RG: Yeah, pretty similar. It’s a great place to race. Most of the teams are around the track as well, so it’s very important as every team around looks forward to racing here. Driving wise it’s one of the most enjoyable track on the calendar, so hopefully we get more years here.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Valtteri, I’m interested to know when you win a race do you get any feedback from Nico Rosberg – email, text, anything at all – winning in his car, as you are?
VB: No. I saw him last time I think Monaco Grand Prix. We had a bit of a chat and he told me that he thinks I’m doing a good job and obviously that was nice to hear from him. Otherwise, no messages or anything. I’m getting quite a lot of feedback from the team about everything, so it’s all good.
Q: (Alex Cheale – Renaissance Foundation) I just wanted to know who are your inspirations for driving?
RG: Good question. I started watching rallies to be fair. So it was Carlos Sainz and Didier Auriol and then in racing, Formula One, I started watching in ’93, ’94, same time as rallies, Prost and Senna and that was a great fight.
VB: For me, definitely when I was a kid it was Häkkinen, when he won his first race, his first title, second title I was watching him closely so he was massive motivation for me.
JP: No one particularly for me but I think when I was young Damon Hill was the British champion and fighting so him.
LS: For me when I was growing up it was Schumacher. He was the guy I looked up to.
Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) A question for Jolyon. You’ve had a string of 11th places and a lot of bad luck this year and you’re still chasing the magical point on the board. How much pressure do you feel at the moment to put points on the board? Do you feel that your drive under threat? Has the team been vocal about it? Have they put you under any kind of targets to meet?
JP: No. I’m trying my best all the time. The pressure? I put a lot on myself. Of course I wanted to score points by now but it’s not been possible. But I have also had a lot of bad luck. I think most of the reliability problems have been on my side of the garage. We missed some races where I think there were some good chances to score, like Baku, where I had a lot of problems. And then of course all these 11th places. It’s frustrating. Every time I have been 11th there has been a car, last time it was Lance, that is right in front of me but it’s not possible to overtake, actually it was Romain before as well. It’s frustrating like that, but it’s pretty close and we’re not even half way through the year. Things are starting to click a bit better now, so hopefully I can carry the momentum into this weekend and then the rest of the year, I’m sure it will get much stronger.
Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) You were talking about the younger generation earlier. In terms of encouraging a new generation to get into Formula One, do you think attending events such as the demo is absolutely key to bringing a new generation of fans to the sport?
RG: It definitely helps. It’s not easy to afford to come to a grand prix, when you’re a dad with two kids for example. So yeah, events like this, where you get to see the cars… I fell in love with motorsport when I was going to see my dad racing in Formula 3. When I saw those cars going around I said: “I want to do that when I’m big”. That’s a key element. I think there are more, clearly getting the passion when you are a kid, you dream about things and it’s just make the kids dream that they can do it and they get the feel of what is Formula One and they will join as big fans.
VB: I think definitely events like this will motivate a lot of young kids. I think it is important for many kids to have opportunities to see F1 live at least once in their childhood. I don’t think it is the only way to get people excited. Personally for me it was enough that I was just doing go-karts. I was watching all the races on TV and I was playing Formula One games. Actually the first time I saw a Formula One car live was 2010 I think. But I was obviously quite keen much, much before that.
JP: I don’t think it is the only way but I think it is a big contributor. It’s great for people to be up close and see the cars in action. I think for a lot of people in London they hadn’t had that experience before especially to be three metres from the track and then of course to see the stars as well. It’s all about the cars going quick and making some noise and then the stars driving them as well. When I was young, seeing the cars in action – OK it was at Silverstone and not in London – but I was like “wow, this is pretty cool”, so for most people it’s a great incentive.
LS: Yeah, I think every opportunity to get close to some Formula One cars is great – races, hopefully more F1 Lives to come, it’s always great to see some cars.
Q: How old were you when you first saw a Formula One car?
LS: I was young. I was probably four or five when I went to the Montreal grand prix for the first time.
Q: (Steven Camp – Paddock Magazine) With Silverstone being one of the fastest tracks on the calendar and the upped pace in performance from the 2017 cars, do any of you think you can take Copse flat out?
VB: Well, it’s always from simulations and driving the simulator and stuff it’s difficult to say for sure, but it could well be, at least with the low fuel. We will see on Saturday at the latest. But it is going to be a lot of fun with these new cars. It’s been anyway in the past years a great circuit, being in the car, driving a Formula One car around here. But I’m really looking forward to this one, it’s going to be really cool.
Q: If it was, what speed and what gear would it be?
VB: It could be eighth or seventh gear. I don’t know about the speed.
RG: That could be the limitation, because if we go in in eighth, the exit might be a bit tricky.