British GP 2019
JULY 11, 2019
Thursday Press Conference
DRIVERS - Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), George RUSSELL (Williams), Lando NORRIS (McLaren), Daniel RICCIARDO (Renault), Antonio GIOVINAZZI (Alfa Romeo)
Q: Welcome gentlemen. It was announced yesterday that Silverstone has a new long-term deal to remain on the Formula 1 calendar. I'd like to get each of your thoughts on that, starting with Lewis please?
Lewis HAMILTON: Well, good afternoon everyone. It was a good surprise to hear that they had re-signed. It wasn't necessarily a surprise. As I spoke to you guys before I knew that it was going to happen. It's clear the Formula 1 can't exist without the home of motorsport, which is the British Grand Prix. Yeah, really, really happy. It's great for the fan base and for that to continuously grow over the next years to come.
Q: Thank you Lewis. Lando?
Lando NORRIS: It's going to be my first race this weekend. I've race here in the past. I love driving Silverstone. It would have been a shame to ever see it go, especially if I only would have done this race, this year and not done it again. Glad to see it still here and I look forward to coming back every year.
Q: Thanks. George?
George RUSSELL: Yeah, obviously very pleased for it to be on the calendar again. I think F1 couldn't live without Silverstone. It's the home of the British Grand Prix. Formula 1 is a very British sport and overall it's just an amazing circuit to drive and there's something special about Silverstone when you come here. Like you said, I'm not surprised it's continued.
Daniel RICCIARDO: Very happy. It's a cool track, cool atmosphere. It was eight years ago this weekend, it was my F1 debut here, so it's always been pretty personal to me. But I've enjoyed it. I don't know how it would feel being somewhere else. It feels normal and right it have it here. It feels like the home of British motorsport. I like that. There's that real camping atmosphere, that festival vibe. Yeah, the Brits love and we do too.
Q: And Antonio?
Antonio GIOVINAZZI: Yes, it's a track with a lot of history, so it was really nice to see that this circuit will be here for another five years. With an F1 car I think it's amazing to drive here, so I can't wait to start tomorrow and do my first grand prix at Silverstone.
Q: Antonio, if we can stay with you, you got your first world championship point in Austria a couple of weeks ago. How did that feel and how confident are you of maintaining that run of form here?
Giovinazzi: Yeah, cost me a little bit of my hair! It was for a good reason I would say. It was actually a different bet with Fred, because it all started at Paul Ricard and he said: 'if you score your first point I will cut your hair'. And then it didn't happen and then in Austria we said 'so, if I don't score points you will my hair', but I scored points, so it's a bit of a mess. Yeah, I'm really happy with this. It was a great weekend so far for me and the team. We went to Q3 with both cars and also top 10 for me and Kimi. So we just need to keep working like that. We had a really good car since Paul Ricard and now here we have another upgrade so I hope again that we are on a good direction and I hope we can stay there and keep fighting and take a little bit of the gap from McLaren as they are still a little bit in front of us, so we just need to keep working.
Q: You've not raced here before in Formula 1 yet, so just can you tell us a little bit about your preparations. What have you ascertained from the simulator, what are your engineers telling you?
Giovinazzi: Luckily, I did one FP1, back in 2017 in F1. Of course it will be a completely different story now. Of course I did some simulator, like every driver, I watched some onboard from last year, working with the team. But you know, when you are in the car it will be completely different things but we have FP1, FP2 tomorrow, so we have a lot of time. It's track I've already raced in F3, Formula 2 so yeah, just looking forward to racing it in F1.
Q: Ok, good luck this weekend. Daniel, tricky race for you and the team in Austria. What conclusions have you drawn since then?
Ricciardo: It was. It wasn't a fun one for us really. We obviously got pretty deep into it after and tried to figure out why we were off the pace all weekend. Definitely feel we learned some things with set-up and I think we kind of just started in a direction which we kept pursuing from Friday, thinking it was the right way to go, but I think in hindsight it wasn't. It's probably more just a set-up misdirection we went for as opposed to anything crazy we found on the car. I was hoping to find a cracked chassis or something like that! I think the car does have a little bit of a sweet spot and I think we had worked towards that the last few weekends, getting those Q3s and building that confidence within myself and that momentum, but we kind of shifted a little bit away from that in Austria, for reasons that seemed to make sense at the time from a set-up point of view and all that. I think we kind of moved away from something we'd got to know but we'll try to bring it back this weekend for Silverstone and go back to what we know.
Q: You say the car has a sweet spot. Why is it so difficult to keep it in that area?
Ricciardo: I wish I knew. I wish I knew. Sometimes I'm glad I'm not an aerodynamicist or an engineer because it would rattle my brain. For, personally, driving the car, I know where I'm comfortable with it and I know where I like it and when we start going down a certain direction that's where we run into problems, under braking or whatever. There's an area where I certainly feel more comfortable and I believe the car is better in that phase. I don't know, it's just race cars, mate! As I said, eight years I've now been here and you still scratch your head. But I think that's part of the attraction as well, because when you do get it right and it all kind of works in harmony it's an amazing feeling.
Q: As you said, you made your F1 debut at Silverstone in 2011. How do you sum up the last eight years of your life?
Ricciardo: It's been fun. I remember vividly the press conference here eight years ago. I actually get embarrassed looking back at photos, I looked like an idiot - an idiot that needed a haircut. Same boat as Antonio! I don't know, it's kind of a whirlwind, but it's amazing how go through it and feel... Obviously I feel much more comfortable here now than I did eight years ago. I guess just that kind of sense of belonging. Eight years ago I was here just like a deer in the headlights, is that the expression? You're kind of just overwhelmed by everything and it's like 'wow, I'm really here now in F1'. You obviously have a lot of belief in yourself but until you really get the results that you believe you can get, there's always maybe that little bit of doubt. Obviously that has built up well over the years. I don't feel like one of the older guys yet, I'm kind of getting there, but I still feel young and sharp and good looking.
Q: Thanks Daniel. Lando, many congratulations on your new McLaren deal for 2020. How exciting is that news and what do you feel you and the team can achieve over the next 18 months?
Norris: Thank you very much. I'm very excited I guess. It's just good news. Things have been going reasonably well lately, so to have that news is just a bonus. And of course knowing I'm going to be here next year makes it a bit more comforting overall, but it doesn't change too much in hindsight. Looking ahead to the next two years let's say, there's a lot of progress we've got to make. I want to be racing this guy on my right a bit more over the next couple of years, not just myself but as a team that's our goal. That's what we are trying to work towards, that's what we are slowly chipping away at but it's going to take two years, it's going to take even more than probably. We'll take it step by step and see how we go.
Q: As you say, you're hoping to race Lewis over the next two years, but you actually raced him at the start last time out in Austria, how was that?
Norris: It was cool. I got past him in Turn 1, which was very nice of him. He didn't force me off or anything, it was a nice little bit we did in Turn 1. And then he just had a better position down the straight, behind Valtteri, in the slipstream. It wasn't a proper fight I don't think. It would have been nice to hang on a little bit longer than I did, but that position is the aim for us, we want to be in P3, we want to be fighting for the podium. It was nice to be there, very momentarily, but it wasn't to be. But it is something I would love to look forward to.
Q: As with Antonio, I just wanted to ask you about your preparation for this weekend, but looking slightly longer term, you've raced at Silverstone in the FIA's junior ranks - Formula 4, F3, F2. I just wanted to ask you how different each of those categories is and how they helped prepare you for this moment?
Norris: Well, I actually started in 2014 racing Ginettas but that was on the national circuit, so it has stepped up quite a bit since then. But they've prepared me more and more I guess. Every lap you do you learn something very small even, but you learn something and that always helps. But I guess the biggest progression is Formula 3 - reasonably high downforce given the size and weight of the car. So you have a very good feeling through Maggots, Becketts, you get to really push the limits and see what it's like. And it's kind of a similar feeling when you go to F1 - I think, I've not driven it yet - feeling the G-Force, feeling the downforce, that's something you already start to get a bit of a feel of in Formula 3 and a little but in Formula 2. Nothing in particular, but every step you take is a step forward and it definitely helps.
Q: George, you finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen in Austria last time out, so it seems the car is really starting to make progress now. How confident are you of another strong showing this weekend ?
Russell: Yeah, I think it's a step-by-step process for us at the moment. The team has two very difficult years... or a very difficult year last year, sorry. They wanted to change a lot of the structure and it was almost that we had to make two steps back before we made three steps forward. The groundworks are kind of really in place at the moment to try to bring more performance to the car as the season progresses and I've got confident we can do that. But the fact is it's going to be another difficult weekend for us and we've just got to do our maximum week in, week out, but yes, it was nice to be racing someone other than just Robert in Austria.
Q: It's 40 years since Williams won its first ever race, here at Silverstone, with Clay Regazzoni in 1979. Just how aware are you of your team's history and how does it make you feel to be lining up with Williams on the grid this weekend?
Russell: I'm very aware of the history. I've been around the museum a number of times and it still amazes me every time I go there and even last week I was showing my trainer around for the first time and we decided to jump in some of the cars and it was just bonkers to think what these guys were doing back then. I could barely get my feet in this thing and you've only got fiberglass protecting you. But like I say, I'm very, very aware of what the team is achieved, it is an honour to race for Williams and like I said, we are almost getting the mickey taken out of us with our performance, but it's a longer-term project for the team and you could have done a number of short-term things to be good in the moment but the team have bigger and greater things in mind.
Q: Lewis, can you just describe how it feels to be Lewis Hamilton, coming into the British Grand Prix?
Lewis HAMILTON: It feels pretty normal, I would say! It probably feels the same as it is, I would say, for all the drivers here. It's such a privilege to be here up against the very few that can be a Formula One driver at the pinnacle of the sport. The British Grand Prix is the most special grand prix of the year, being that it's... just the sheer magnitude of it and just how many people come for the weekend and how many British flags you see around here. It really is a spectacular weekend. I would say it probably just feels... I don't know. There's excitement, there's the adrenaline going, there's pressures. My whole family's coming this weekend. It is that one weekend where... it's probably the most special in a sense because you've got your family, the closest support, surrounding you. I've been very privileged over the years to obviously come here and have some spectacular races. I don't know what I've won here but obviously here to try to improve this weekend. We are here to improve this weekend as a team. The last one was a little bit difficult for us but hopefully this weekend. I think it'll be close but hopefully we'll have a better shot.
Q: As you say, Austria was, in effect, the first time you guys tripped up this year, with Valtteri finishing third, yourself fifth. Are you confident that was a one off, or have you got concerns coming into this weekend?
Hamilton: I wouldn't say that I necessarily have concerns. I don't weekends necessarily with a negative connotation to start with but, no I think we're fully aware that the Ferraris and the Red Bulls have taken a step forward and the pace that they had in the last race was great. I think it looked a lot better than... I think it we didn't have the issues that we had, I think we would have been a lot closer, would have been more in the fight. I expect this weekend it will be closer between us all. Last year Ferrari were super-fast here as well - as were the Red Bulls. I think the Red Bulls were a little bit down but now they've got the new engine I think they'll be even quicker. So, it's definitely not going to be an easy weekend.
Q: And Lewis, you've got 79 wins to your name, five of which have come here at Silverstone. On Sunday, you can be the first man ever to win six races at this race track. How enticing is that record and what would it mean?
Hamilton: Well, you know me. I'm not really one for records, so if it happens this weekend it does; if it doesn't, it's no biggie for me as I'll try to be here for a little bit longer. Just the fact that that's even a possibility is quite unreal for me. Ultimately it's just really important to put that stuff out of your head, out of your mind and just focus on the job at hand. As I said, it's not going to be an easy weekend for us. It's really just about being diligent, making sure we leave no stone unturned. As Daniel mentioned, these cars all have sweet spots and it's trying to... all those sweet spots don't always work at each track - but this has been a strong track for us in the past. Hopefully this weekend, it'll be a sweet spot for us.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Scott Mitchell - Autosport) Lewis and Daniel, last year Silverstone was resurfaced. It was slightly controversial, not all of the drivers were happy with it. It's been resurfaced again for this year, and there's also a little bit more gravel around the place in a couple of areas. It's always been described as a drivers' track. How interested are you to go out and see what change the changes have made.
Ricciardo: Yeah, I was trying to get out there today, I will at some point, probably just on a bike, bit quicker. Yeah, it was pretty bumpy last year but at Red Bull we had one of the smoother-riding cars. A lot of others did say it was pretty bad. So, yeah, I'll definitely have a look. I don't normally do track walks or anything but if there is a change, it's worth seeing, have a browse.
Hamilton: Same same but different.
Ricciardo: Different but the same.
Q: (Livio Oricchio) Daniel, when you see what Max did in Spielberg and you see the performance of your team, do you have any regrets of changing team. And also, concerning the asphalt, do you expect any big impact in the performance of the car. I mean, any big changes in comparison to what has been seen at the last few races?
Ricciardo: To answer the first part: no. Honestly no regrets. It was actually... part of me was pretty happy for them, and for F1 to just have a good race. It went through such... yeah... quite a lot of... I'm trying think of a better word. You know the word I'm thinking of, it's a word I can't really say! It went through a lot of scrutiny after France, so just for the sport to have a good race was awesome. But no, honestly, if I look back, by that time last year, Red Bull had three wins; that was the first. Obviously I'm further back at the moment, absolutely, you're right but I expected this and really, if I stayed at Red Bull it was to win a title and sure, they got the win last weekend but they're still a fair way from the title. And that's not having a dig, that's just the reality. So I don't think I would necessarily have achieved anything else than I was already achieving there, so for that, yeah, no regrets. Obviously trying to build something here with Renault and absolutely there's still a lot of work to do - but equally it's pretty fulfilling when you do get a little bit of a result and Montreal was one of those moments where, it kind of... even that result alone made the first seven or so races worth it. The little bit of struggle and ups and downs. So yeah, but for the sport, honestly, I'm very happy that the last race went the way it did and hopefully there's more like that. Hopefully I'm not running in 12th, or wherever I was, because that's also not fun - but hopefully the battle at the front gets close and says close.
Q: And the asphalt?
Ricciardo: I'll let the others answer. It's dark, yeah, the asphalt. Conductor of heat.
Q: I think we want to hear from the other drivers. George?
Russell: I won't know until I've driving on it. Obviously raced F2 last year, didn't feel a huge issue. It adds a bit of character, I think, even when it's bumpy. It is how it is. It's the same for everyone. You've got to adapt to the situation. Sometimes, if it's too perfect, then it's almost easier to drive - but obviously they had to do it more for the bikes than for us.
Q: Lando, have you been out to look at the asphalt?
Norris: Yeah, I scootered around earlier. Just looks darker than normal, I guess. It depends. I don't know what kind of tarmac is it. Obviously in Paul Ricard we had the newer patches of tarmac and it was much slippier, or not as grippy as the older bits. So, it depends. We'll find out tomorrow.
Giovinazzi: Yeah, I agree with George and Lando. It's nothing. You need to adapt a little bit.
Q: (Julien Billiotte - AutoHebdo) Question to George. George, timing is everything in Formula One. When you see someone like Lando, who you've beaten in Formula Two last year, getting strong results, enjoying strong momentum at McLaren, are you not afraid you might miss out on bigger opportunities? Because you could be driving the best race of your life at the moment and no-one - or not a lot of people - would take notice.
Russell: Yeah, thanks for that! No, not at all. At the end of the day, I know there are only a small number of people that are going to make a difference in my career and that's Claire and the top people at Williams and Toto and the top people at Mercedes. At the end of the day, those guys are fully aware of the situation. They know exactly if I've had a good weekend or not. And even in myself, I've come away from some races which I know I've performed well, and I've come away satisfied, and other races I've come away knowing I could have done a better job, even though I ended up in the exact same position. So, but like I said, I'm also happy for Lando and Alex: the younger generation sticking it to the experienced guys and showing that we can do it. I think, y'know, I'm happy for them and if they're doing a good job, it also looks good for me.
Q: (Giles Richards - The Guardian) Lewis, you've achieved remarkable things in the sport, in what has been a very long career - but I was wondering if you could try to think back to when you started in Formula One and remember what your greatest hopes and aspirations were back then - what you thought you might achieve when you began?
Hamilton: I don't really remember much back then. I think naturally you just want to excel and succeed in everything you do, and just... every driver here has a huge amount of belief in their own ability and we all have some sort of platform and opportunity in front of us and it was just really about maximising the opportunity that we do have, regardless of what team we're in, what position you're in. And just like George was saying, that's really key. You know whether you're doing the job and the lessons that you go through are huge at the early stages. And these guys are all going a great job, particularly in the early days. Me and Daniel were just saying, we're having to represent for the 30-crew. It was extremely special but it was a huge learning process for me, as it is for all of us in the early stages. There's no substitute for experience. That just comes over time. Of course I wanted to win world titles, I think in my first year I wanted to win the world title, that was straight away. Super-ambitious - particularly up against a two-time World Champion but there wasn't a moment that I doubted myself, that I could do it. I think that's ultimately what we all have - that confidence in ourselves.
Q: (Oliver Brown - The Telegraph) Lewis, Christian Horner raised a few eyebrows earlier this week by suggesting that, if you and Max were in the same machinery, at the moment he would back Max to prevail. Given you've won six of nine races already this year, that seemed a fairly bold claim on his part. I just wondered your response to that and, more broadly, on how you and Max measure up as racers.
Hamilton: Well, firstly I don't compare myself to anybody. Don't need to. I don't really have a response to his claims. Ultimately every now and again someone needs certain attention and... yeah... I think Max has been doing a great job and really, really exciting to watch. I think the last race was really fantastic and it'll be really interesting to see how they go moving forwards.
Q: (Rob Harris - Associated Press) Lewis, the new Silverstone deal is through to 2024; do you think you will still be driving then or what do you think you'll be doing in F1? And we could have England in a World Cup final on Sunday, just as you're racing. Do you think you're going to have to produce something special to grab the national attention? Not to jinx anything for them today...
Hamilton: What I don't understand is why the organisers put the race on the same day as all these other big events - Wimbledon - I really don't understand it. But I hope in future that they put this on a... this is such a special weekend, it needs all the focus of the whole country and just not a small amount. I think people will be switching between channels on Sunday, not sure what to watch. But naturally I come here... there's quite a few of us Brits but we come here to raise the flag and do the country proud so I'm just going to try and play my part. 2024? Jesus, it feels like a long way away. Who knows whether I will still be here by then but if I'm not, if I've stopped racing, I won't be here in any other capacity.
Q: (Graham Harris) Lando, now that you and Carlos have been confirmed next year at McLaren, what is that going to do for you and possibly, speaking on behalf of your teammate, to know that everything is settled, you don't have to go through these endless questions from us asking what you're going to do next year? Does this give you an advantage? How do you feel about it and do you think you've made the right decision?
Norris: Yeah, I think I've made the right decision. It wasn't something I was worried about or asking about so for me, I was pretty confident in the job I had been doing so far this season and because I wasn't necessarily worried or asking about it in any way, for them to come forward to me with it and the confirmation, then yeah, it made me a bit happier. With me not being worried about it, it wasn't something I don't think... or it's not going to be something which changes how I think about it, it's not going to make me necessarily more confident or anything. I had all my confidence in the team. I would like to say that they had all theirs in me as well. From all of that, we will keep working hard, keep trying to progress and I'm sure Carlos and myself are going to have a lot more battles and some times together.
Q: (Ben Hunt - The Sun) Lewis, '92, talk about Mansell mania and the crowds coming in to see him. We've got a similar situation, Silverstone's going to be absolutely sold out on Sunday, partly to come and see you with all the success you're having. Now there's no question about the support you have with F1 fans, they all adore you and think you're great for what you're doing, the titles you're winning. You've also struggled sometimes to win over some of the other British public, non-F1 fans. Can you put your finger on that at all, any reason why you don't have the same universal adulation as Nigel Mansell had, say?
Hamilton: I don't really... I don't know. I don't really generally feel that but people have the right to chose who they support and what I can say is that... I remember growing up in Stevenage I never in a million years thought I'd have a single supporter besides my Mum and my Dad. I feel really privileged in just even having one but quite a lot of people come here and I'm so grateful just for that, which is more than enough for me, so the more the merrier. I guess the more and more time I spend here, I guess you have more and more opportunity to turn people's opinions. But ultimately, as I said, I'm grateful for what I do have.
Norris: Maybe it's the moustache!
Hamilton: The moustache? What, the fact that I can't really grow much!
Norris: Well, I can't do much better either. Mansell's one was alright.
Hamilton: Mansell had a good moustache. It might be that, I'm not able to grow. This is like as far as it goes. And he had good eyebrows as well. Maybe one weekend I'll try sticking them on and see if it makes a difference.
Q: (Phil Duncan - PA) Lewis, the two chaps to the left of you have got a combined age of 40, if my maths is right. I was just wondering if you have...
Norris: (Having exploded with laughter) Don't worry, it's nothing to do with your question.
Russell: It's definitely not suitable for you guys.
Ricciardo: I didn't think it was that funny.
Q: (Phil Duncan - PA) The question was, anyway, it was whether Lewis had any advice for the chaps sitting to his left and what he thought of the job they're doing?
Hamilton: I don't think I need to give them any advice. They've obviously come through similar ranks to myself and they're doing exceptional jobs. Both have completely different challenges with George obviously in a team that's has struggled for some time but is part of helping them take steps to improve and I really really hope... I'm a huge fan of Frank and that team and what they've achieved in their history so I really really... I think that's a team that needs to be up at the top with the rest of them. It's amazing to see McLaren doing so well. They've had some really tough years as well. We got to have a bit of a race in the last race and just watching Lando's progression is incredibly impressive, to be so young in such an early phase, he's coming in and keeping a level head and delivering on weekends, also up against a driver who's got more experience than him. I'm personally excited to continue to watch these two grow and the trials and tribulations that they'll face and I do hope that we get to do some racing together, as I said, representing the thirties.
Q: (Stephen Camp) Over the past few weeks, if not months, there have been discussions about making life more difficult for the drivers behind the wheel. I was just wondering if there was anything in particular any one of you guys would like to see... perhaps power steering taken away, reduction in downforce? Is there anything in particular that you would like to see making your lives more difficult?
Giovinazzi: Yeah, of course I think I want better racing but less downforce, better to follow people but yeah, it really differs not from my side. We will see what happens after 2021 but yeah, for now it's not my decision. We need to see what happens.
Ricciardo: Yeah, I guess the racing thing's a big one, just to be able to... obviously if it was all a bit closer that's great as well but it's just the ability to follow. I guess it's two-fold now. You get close to another car, you lose a chunk of downforce but then also your tyres start to overheat so that then loses you an additional amount of grip so you're kind of fighting against those two, let's say, negative forces which don't help. Power steering? Honestly, with the load and the actual downforce we have now would be literally impossible. I've had hydraulic failures; that's when you lose the power steering and you can't turn. As brave as I'd like to say I am and as shredded as I am, it wouldn't suffice. Maybe one lap but not fifty.
Hamilton: I agree. I think what's really important right now is that the drivers are unified for the first time since I've been in the sport. We're all together as kind of a union and sort of working together with the FIA and hoping that we can have a positive impact on the rules in 2021. So we kind of need to make sure we stay on top of that and stay a part of it. There are definitely subtle changes we can do for sure to make the car a little bit even more physical than it is. It's by no means easy for us to drive and definitely not taking power steering away would not be key but I think we could probably reduce it if we needed to do. We currently have the option to do that but there's no need because it doesn't really make a difference for us really. But yeah, I think there's a lot of other aspects and ultimately, as Daniel mentioned, if the racing was closer it would really improve racing so that's key for us, I think.
Norris: Nothing (inaudible). Nothing in particular. I think obviously the main thing is the racing which is probably the most important thing for all of us. The physical attributes, I don't really mind, to be honest. I did suffer a lot since karting, with my size and everything, not really having a clue what to do when I started karting, so I suffered in every category: F4, F3, F2 - not so much F2 but I've had to kind of play catch-up quite a bit and in some ways, F1 was a bit nicer with power steering. F2's much harder, physically on the arms and almost on the whole body than F1 is. So it can change but I don't really mind, it's how it is to be honest, I don't think that's the priority of F1 right now.
Russell: Yes, as the guys said, obviously to be able to race each other closer is the number one priority but I think also allowing us to drive flat-out every single lap, qualifying laps for 70 laps would be pretty cool and that would make the physical demand greater. If you're constantly lifting-coasting or saving the tyres in high speed corners or doing whatever else, it's obviously not as a tough as it would be if you're going flat-out. So those two together would be my idea of what we want.