Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Drivers' Conference

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Drivers' Conference

DRIVERS – Pierre GASLY (Alpine), Carlos SAINZ (Ferrari), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (Haas), Zhou GUANYU (Kick Sauber), Lando NORRIS (McLaren), Daniel RICCIARDO (RB)

 

Q: Carlos, let's start with you. How are you? Are you feeling good ahead of being a Ferrari driver here at Imola. You've got upgrades on your car. Life's good?

Carlos SAINZ: Yeah, it cannot get any better. Yeah, Ferrari driver in Imola, with hopefully a bit of a step coming in the car this weekend. Life's good. I can't complain.

 

Q: Tell us about the step. Is it enough to pull you level with McLaren and even Red Bull?

CS: I still think it's going to be track dependent. I think in Miami, it was a better suited track for our car, and we had really good pace, even though McLaren and Red Bull, maybe they were half a step in front. Our car felt back to normal, while in China, particularly, it felt really not good. So I think we're going to be very track dependent and hopefully Imola is one of those good track for us and we can put on a good show in front of the crowd. This would be ideal scenario. For the rest, we're going to need to keep developing for tracks like China because there's certain types of corner where our car really struggles right now and we need to keep moving forward in that sense.

 

Q: Quick update on 2025. When can we expect news of where you'll be racing?

CS: Don't worry, when I have them, you'll know.

 

Q: Is it still a long way off?

CS: I think so, yeah. It's not moving too quick.

 

Q: Good luck this weekend. Thank you, Kevin. Let's come to you next. Now, you had a good weekend when we last raced here in 2022. You scored points in both the sprint and the Grand Prix. Is this a track that's going to suit this year's Haas?

Kevin MAGNUSSEN: I hope so. There are a few low- but also a lot of medium-speed corners. I think our car has been reasonably good on most tracks this year and I expect it to be decent here also. Hopefully we can have a good one.

 

Q: And Kevin, I do need to talk to you about penalty points. You started the season on zero, six races in, you're now on 10, edging close to the limit of 12. Are you going to adjust your driving? Are you going to be a little bit more conservative now going forward to avoid a potential ban?

KM: I think the next time it's a race ban, so I think I'll have to, but I don't know. I think these situations where I've had to play the support role for my team-mate, they have been paying off, so it's been kind of valuable to us. I don't love the way the rules are; that it's possible. I would love it to not be possible at all. But since the rules are as they are and I didn't make the rules, I think there's stuff to be looked at there. For myself, I'm on 10 points, so I have to be careful not to get a race ban.

 

Q: Alright. Good luck this weekend. Thank you, Pierre. Let's move on to you. Alpine scored its first point of the season last time out in Miami. Do you feel that things are finally heading in the right direction?

Pierre GASLY: Yeah, I think there's been progress in Miami. It was positive to see the upgrade, bringing us a bit more performance onto the car and getting us closer to the top 10. So still a lot to be done, you know, to be in a better shape and closer to, you know, points-finishing positions consistently. But we're definitely making progress, yeah.

 

Q: Where is the car better than it was two months ago?

PG: Well, it's just the general package. You know, you're talking about weight. You're talking about a bit more downforce. You get a better understanding of the car package compared to the start of the year. So you manage to get the car in a better window early in the weekend. It's not drastically different, but we're able to maximize what we’ve got. And obviously, we've got to still keep working to add more performance to it.

 

Q: Now, Pierre, you are using a Senna livery on your helmet this weekend. Very recently, you drove his 1984 Toleman. I did just want to ask, what is it about Senna? Because he was killed two years before you were born. So tell us about what it is about him that you admire so much?

PG: I've always admired him since I was a child. Obviously, in France, I grew up hearing a lot about Alain Prost, who is the most successful French F1 driver of all time. And obviously, with Alain always came Ayrton's name. I watched a lot of documentaries and it's probably the most, to me, iconic battle in F1 history. I always admired, I will say, the style of racing, but also the person he was – the values, the way he was caring about his community. And, you know, he’s one of the biggest champions of our sport and I think it was important to pay tribute, especially on this year, 30 years after the incident, it was important to me to pay tribute to one of the best of all time.

 

Q: How did you get on with the H-pattern stick shift?

PG: I must say, it's definitely easier these days. But it was a great exercise. It was the first time I actually had to drive with an H-pattern gearbox and I’m not going to lie, into the first corner I tried to downshift into second and ended up in fourth gear. But from there on, I got my head around it. And it was... I actually really loved it just from the fact that you have absolutely no electronics. So it's plain steering, three pedals, brake throttle, and clutch. And it just felt like you're only focusing on your line and your speed. There is a lot less into it than what we have now, with all this brake shape and diff, et cetera. Just very pure driving, very raw driving, which felt closer to what it was like back in the karting days, obviously with a lot more power. And it was definitely a very cool experience. And I'll be down for some more laps with old cars in the future.

 

Q: Thank you, Pierre. Zhou, let's come to you now. Some encouraging signs a couple of races ago from the team in China, but Miami turned out to be a difficult weekend. So what are your expectations coming to Imola?

Zhou GUANYO: Yeah, for us we did struggle quite a bit, or let's say, Miami was probably the weekend of the season where we were struggling just put the car into Q2. But yeah, in the race we was there, together with the pack, but we do have some upgrade here. It's not a big one. We have some bigger one coming later on in the season. But there's a performance gain for the new package we're going to have for Imola. So hopefully that will be better than what we hoped for on the data and then it will give us a bit of performance because it's so tight with the whole field and also even in the in the race craft, you know, if you can gain a couple of tenths that will put you much higher up and also put you in a much better position for the starting grid. Let's see. It's been of course a tricky start of the season but things are getting a bit more calmed down in the team. so we just focus purely on what's happening on track and hopefully we can quickly go back to the points.

 

Q: How much lap time do you need to become a regular in Q3 do you think? Is it two tenths or is it less than that?

ZG: Half a second?

 

Q: As much as that?

ZG: I mean, it depends on the track, of course. If you take off Miami, like even for Shanghai, Valtteri was in Q3. So, you know, we don't need a lot. We need just a tenth. But Miami, we do need like half a second there. So it's really depending on what track, the temperature, the grip level, the tyre wear. But I do think, you know, two tenths around that, it puts us in a much better window because it's so tight a field. Getting through to Q2 already, we can make things quite close into that final P9, P10 for Q3. So everything is just extremely close this year, like the last season. So we need to make sure that we can maximise every single detail we have and give it all.

 

Q: Thank you. Best of luck to you. Lando, let's come to you next. Hello, Grand Prix winner. Are you still on Cloud Nine after your success last time out?

Lando NORRIS: I mean, I celebrated appropriately for the occasion. But it's another weekend, so I've got to make sure I'm prepared and ready to go. But I mean, you still think of it a lot, I still think of it now. But at the same time, as much as you want to keep it in your mind, you have to turn your focus to the next weekend, which is this one, and hopefully try and replicate a similar thing. But yeah, an amazing, amazing weekend. One I'll probably remember for the rest of my life. So incredible and made the most of it. And yeah, as much as I loved it, it's now on to the next.

 

Q: The upgrades clearly worked in Miami. Do you think they'll be even better suited to Imola?

LN: I think we are just better suited to Imola, potentially the upgrade a little bit as well. Imola has generally been one of our most successful tracks as a team and for me as a driver, so I would like to say so. I think we've definitely taken a step forward. From what I know, other teams have upgrades too, so I don't think we're getting ahead of ourselves. I know I've put good confidence forward to the team. I've said that we're confident we can take steps forward. But I think I made it clear that we're not going to be there every weekend. I was still sixth at the time, and I'm always honest. I'm happily going to say that I was lucky last weekend with the Safety Car, and the strategy worked out perfectly. But that's how races go sometimes. So I wasn't just first because I was the quickest at the time, but I was quickest on track. And I think that was the first good sign we had. And then it turned into something more. Yeah, we were quickest at the time on track and I think the whole weekend was turning into something good and we were showing that the car made some good steps forward. But we need more. if we're going to challenge Ferrari more consistently, we're going to challenge Red Bull more consistently, but the team are doing a great job. They made some good steps and we have more things hopefully coming in the future and those are what we need to be there more often.

 

Q: With these upgrades, where do you think McLaren is in the pecking order then?

LN: We're third.

 

Q: Still third?

LN: Yep.

 

Q: Look, best of luck this weekend. Thank you. Daniel, thank you for waiting. Let's come to you now. You've gone well here in the past. You had a good Sprint in Miami. Do you come to Imola full of confidence?

Daniel RICCIARDO: Yeah, like I’m excited here. It's like, yeah, I’m just enjoying the racing a lot right now. So that's after Miami. Obviously, it was a kind of very different weekend. in a way. Obviously a massive high and then the race was a different story, the Sunday race. So yeah, you kind of hold on to the high and that feeling of seeing all the happy faces in the garage. But then you just want to get back to it and that's and that's that. It's always nice here to have a weekend off but I don't know, right now I prefer to be racing. So it's good to be here.

 

Q: You had a good weekend in China, pace-wise. You had a good weekend in Miami. Do you feel you've found the consistency you've been striving for with this car now?

DR: I've definitely found... Yeah, I think I know what is required from this car, and I think I'm just comfortable in it. Obviously, there are still moments where, obviously, the Saturday evening, afternoon qualifying, you know, it's still not always going to be easy to put it together, and when some things don't quite happen then yeah, obviously in our position it can mean a Q1 exit. So that's just where we are. It's competitive and you've still got to put it all together but I have a lot of confidence in the car and where I'm at with it that we can get the job done more often than not.

 

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Rachel Brooks – Sky Sports F1) It's a question to all of you, actually, just about we've got so many new venues on the calendar, what does it actually feel like to come to such an iconic venue, with such great history,  as this? And especially on the weekend where we're marking the 30 years since Senna's death? What does it mean to you all to be racing here this weekend?

CS: I think it's what we all miss a little from all the new venues that we go to is this old school kind of feeling of the track and the history behind them. I'm glad the calendar keeps this sort of venues because I think it reminds us all where we all come from and why we all became fans of this sport. So I'm a big fan of coming back to places like Imola, Monaco next week. I do think maybe there's potentially a bit of work to do in some of these tracks to maybe make them a bit better for the show, in terms of overtaking when we look at the overtaking possibilities in Monaco or here. I think we need to see how long is the pit lane also, see how we can make the old school tracks also maybe a bit more exciting with overtaking opportunities and making the race better. But I think it's also part of the European style of tracks and old school tracks that I love driving a qualifying lap around. I think this a top-three circuit in the world, where you feel a Formula 1 car more than anything else. This together with Suzuka, I think Zandvoort also maybe is where you feel a Formula 1 car at its peak. And I love that. So yeah, all for coming back to these places.

 

KM: Yeah, I mean, I prefer driving on these tracks. I agree with Carlos on the racing side of it, but definitely driving. These types of tracks are just a little bit more intimidating than some of the new ones where you might as well be driving a simulator in terms of your feeling in driving. I love coming to these tracks. I think it’s a good point about the pit lane, maybe that's an area where if you made the pit stop time less, you would have maybe more likely a two-stop. The tyres are still today not good for racing each other and overheating when you're behind. I think there is a bit of a step forward from a couple of years ago, but that is still a big issue. The cars have become more difficult to follow each other, and those things weigh higher, I think. That could be solved and made easier for racing here.

 

PG: Not going to be too long, but I agree with all the points of Carlos. I think it's part of the DNA of our sport. Just this week, just seeing all the history that happened on this track. There were a couple of videos of Michael driving the Ferrari, winning, his pole lap from some years ago. And this is how we all fell in love with the sport. So as a kid, I remember watching these guys driving around here. And these days, as Carlos said, it's one of the best tracks. The way you attack the kerbs, the chicane is very iconic here. It's just a very cool track to drive. And the history there is very impressive. And yeah, definitely think it's important for our sport to keep these  type of venues.

 

ZG: Yeah, for me, not much to add. Obviously, it's always been one of my top of the list. These few tracks I really love to go to since, you know, the first day in the single seater F4 times. So, yeah, just the whole, you know, the section, the chicanes, how you attack the kerb, like Pierre was mentioning, it's just really nice to drive that and to really feel this old school track in a way that you can use this new generation car to extract all the downfalls we have.

 

LN: I don't think you need all of us. But yeah, I think we want these circuits because they're more challenging for us as drivers. But generally, the tracks that are like this are also ones which are a bit harder to overtake and the ones that people don't like as much because there's more run-offs and things. At times, you have better overtaking at these tracks. So you kind of have to find the right compromises. But like Carlos said, the pit lane is so long here that it takes away any strategy element or that side of racing. But yeah, I think history is always a part of every sport. And you always want to kind of keep definitely parts of history within it for whatever reason it is. So we love it. But we also want to race more. And those are the reasons that some of these tracks are getting dropped, because the racing is not good enough and they're not exciting enough. But we want to be able to come to these tracks and race, just so certain things need to be done in order to achieve that. But yeah, I went to the historic race (in Monaco) and the best thing about it is, for me, sound. The sound needs to be improved, first of all. But smaller cars, lighter cars, these types of things will make everything better straight away. So certain things, I think a combination of various things, need to be improved. And I think then we can all enjoy these tracks more. Otherwise, eventually, we're not going to be racing here if there's never any overtakes and things.

 

DR: Yep, all very good points.

 

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg – Viaplay) for Kevin, but I'd like the rest to chip in if they want. Is there something wrong with the penalty point system in itself, the way they are given for minor infractions versus bigger infractions?

KM: Well, I think the fact that I'm at risk of a race ban for driving outside of some white lines on a piece of tarmac, I don't know if I feel that that is right, but it is the way the rules are, so I accept that. I feel there's room for improvement there, not only in terms of the points. There are more races now than there were back when they were introduced, and I feel you can end up getting a race ban effectively for a very minor thing. So that's what I feel.

 

Q: Daniel, your turn to speak. As the most experienced driver here, give us your thoughts on the penalty point system?

DR: I feel like this is an interrogation. I don't know. I mean, I see the point. Look, do I sit here and say, I want to see a driver get a race ban? No, I don't. So I'm sure there's always some room for improving it and understanding it better. And it's maybe like more… It's hard because we all have, I guess, different opinions when we've got the helmet on and we're racing. But sometimes I feel like a live decision can probably come sooner. But yeah, that's obviously, that could mean many things. But sometimes after the fact, you know, like the race is done and it's gone and then… Yeah, so I don't know. There's always room for improvement. But yeah, I don't know. You seem disappointed. What do you want me to say? What do you think?

Q: (Albert Fabrega – ESPN LATAM) ur topic this week has been how F1 should develop the engines for the future in terms of sound. In your experience, not as a spectator, but as a driver, how we change the experience of driving a car with a louder engine at your back?

DR: I can answer that. Give me that one. Well, yeah, so when I first joined F1, the other engine was much louder. When you get it fired up from the back, you're waiting for it. It cranks. And then when it starts, you feel like that kind of tingle in your spine. And maybe it's just because I was younger and inexperienced and still quite intimidated probably by the sport. But when the engine would fire up, it was like, ‘woah’. Yeah, it was intimidating. It was more scary. And I don't know if I was to join now if that would be the same because it's new or because the sound is different. But I do feel an element of it was the sound. And it did sound like kind of an animal ready to be unleashed. So I remember that feeling vividly. And that was a scary one. Then once you get on track, you're in your happy place and you get it comfortable. in the garage when you're waiting and it starts and you're like, all right, it's going to get serious pretty soon. That was a cool, scary feeling.

Q: Anyone else? Carlos.

CS: I remember when I went to my first Formula 1 race back in 2005. I was 10 years old. First time I heard a Formula 1 engine, I got scared. And I kind of, yeah, as Daniel said, I really got intimidated by the sound. I was like, those things are crazy. Like who jumps on one of those and goes flat out? And it's how I became a fan of the sport and Fernando, Michael, at the time, became my idols. And I wanted to be a Formula 1 driver ever since. And there's definitely not that element anymore, even though the engines are, you cannot speak when they're on, but it's not the same, no. I felt like 2026 was a good opportunity to maybe go back a bit in that direction. I don't know how much is going to be the case now. They're talking about 2030 for that. For me I wish it could come early because with synthetic fuels and the progress that there's been in that in that area there is I think a very good opportunity to fast forward getting that noise back and getting that kind of Formula 1 back, which I would be very happy and very supportive of.

Q: (Roldan Rodriguez – DAZN Spain) It's a question to Carlos Sainz. You got a penalty in the last race at the end of the weekend. Many people do not understand exactly when and why some people get penalised. I would like to know how you evaluate this?

CS: Drivers sometimes don't either. In this case, I think there's a case of… I struggle to understand it sometimes too. I'm going to put a very clear example that I even shared with Checo at the time, at the start. Checo, you know, went completely long, lost control of the car, nearly took two guys out. We just were lucky to, in a way, to avoid him, and he went off the track at the start, and there wasn't a consequence, there was no contacts or anything, but it cost a lot of my race, it cost a lot of other people's race, and he didn't get a penalty, you know, in that sense. I lost minimal control of the car overtaking Oscar. I unfortunately damaged his from wing. He obviously went backwards, 15 positions, and I got a five-second penalty. And in that sense, I know that we keep thinking we don't look at the outcome of the penalty. In this case, I think clearly we're still looking at the outcome, because I am completely certain that if the front wing of Oscar wouldn't have had to pit, I wouldn't have had a penalty and everyone would be talking about a good overtake and some good action on track, on a track where it proved to be extremely difficult to overtake and you had to go for a move like that. But yeah, on the other hand, Checo didn't touch anyone, even we all managed to avoid him and there was no penalty. So in my opinion, the consequence, it's still having a bit of an effect in the penalty that you get, which, is something that I don't fully share or I'm still a bit puzzled about and I struggle with sometimes.

Q: (Laurent Dupin – Canal Plus). A question for Daniel. When we are in Melbourne, you say it's your home Grand Prix, but it's 3,000 kilometres away from Perth. Here, it's really a home Grand Prix for your team. What can you say about it? What kind of souvenir do you have from Faenza, from Imola, even from your time?

DR: I mean, Australia is a big place, so you have to forgive me for still calling Melbourne the home race. Yeah, I mean, both Yuki and myself were at the factory yesterday. It really is like 15 minutes away from here. So it's special, you know, to have a team so close to obviously a venue we race at. And also Italian, you know, it runs, it definitely runs pretty deep in the blood here in Italy and yeah you feel that everyone was so excited this week and obviously a lot of the factory will be at the circuit this weekend. I think there's a grandstand on the on the start finish straight. So it's just nice. It's kind of a proud feeling, you know. Anytime you have a home race, it's a privilege. Again, it's a feeling of just being very proud. So yeah, for really all the team to experience that, happy for them. And obviously, Yuki and myself will try and give them something extra to smile about.

Q: (Moritz Steidl – Servus TV) First of all, Lando, congratulations on your first ever victory, also from all of our team. My question is, you've talked a lot about mental health, about awareness, and about ups and downs in life. How did you keep up your mentality of seeing the glass, whether half full than empty, and who helped you in this regard? Was it maybe your boss? Was it your father? A friend? Can you tell us?

LN: Definitely not Daniel! Ha! How can I see it as a glass half full? It's only one race and I want another one. I don't know. How would I put it? I was still lucky in the race. I don't think it was just a lucky win. I think because every race Safety Cars are a big part of it. You plan for them, those kind of things. But it wasn't like I was pole and led from the beginning. So that's all. The next target is to be at the front from the start, to not have a Safety Car help me out and those types of things. But yeah, it's also just one weekend. Formula 1 is not just about one weekend. I know a lot of people only like to talk about one weekend at a time, but I think you learn to think about a much bigger picture. That was back in Miami and now we're here in Imola. So it could be that we go out and we're the third best team again and we're too far behind Red Bull or Ferrari to even challenge for a podium. So I think, yeah, you just take one block at a time. You celebrate it or you learn from it, whatever the case is, and you move on to the next one. Yeah, simple as that, honestly. But I think I've got to a point where, honestly, I'm always accepting help from people and advice and I speak to whoever it will be, whether it's Zak or my dad or my mom or family or friends whoever it is. I'm always very happy to kind of take advice from them and listen to what people say but also I can do things my own way and I like to do things my own way. I feel like I'm at a point where I can deal with the good times and I can deal with the bad times. Everyone deals with them differently. But yeah, I don't have to go out and look for this kind of support. I feel like I'm in a much better place than I was a few years ago. I've just matured and got the experience of it that I can deal with myself and be happy, celebrate it, but then return back to normality and focus on the next one.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lando, could you just elaborate a little bit on those celebrations in Miami after the race? And the second part of the question is, obviously, I know you said there you think you're the third best team, but does it give you a little bit of hope that you can take the fight to Max and Red Bull this year?

LN: Yeah, to the first point… Can I elaborate? I mean, I just had a good night out with some of the drivers and friends and some of the team. I went to see the team. And of course, everyone was having a little drink and having a good time, which I think is definitely allowed and it was accepted. I had a little moment with the team and went to go and see them for a bit and then went to go and have even more fun with some friends and so forth, but not a lot more than that. And I went from there straight to Augusta and played Augusta. So I said like I didn't wake up until Tuesday morning. The first time I slept was Monday night. So it was a long couple of days, but all worth it. And I think, accepted, I should say. Yeah, then I played Augusta for two days, then flew back. Then I scored my best day of golf that I had, which was like even better than the win almost. So I just had a great few days with friends, with family, that kind of thing. And for me, that's as good as it gets. So that kind of fun, I don't need to get into any more details than that. And does it give me more hope in challenging them?  100%. I mean, we had an upgrade there. It definitely helped us. I think anyway, we seemed good there, even if we had no upgrade. I think we still would have been decent, but maybe not quite as quick. And I know Max had damage and all of this, and people like to use that, but even before he had damage, we were still quicker than him by a fairly big chunk. And another question the other day was, can we challenge for the title next year and that kind of thing? You can never please everyone. If I'm not confident, people say I'm not confident enough. Now I have a bit of confidence, people say I'm overconfident, but we're getting closer and closer. We were there because we had good pace. I feel like we should have been on pole at least on Friday afternoon, maybe not Saturday. I think that's where we deserve to be. But we're getting closer. And I know as soon as we can attack some of these issues that we have, like I know we can. It's as simple as that. We're close. Sometimes we're one or two tenths off. And as much as that is, that's a little bit in two or three corners on the circuit and we're there, we can be on pole and we can challenge for a race win. As much as some people might doubt it, we're close, but we know that other people are improving and that kind of thing. It's not an easy task to keep going at it. With the progress we're making, with the developments that we've had, there's no reason to say no. But I do know it's a whole other task to do it consistently, to do it every weekend. And when you are there, to deliver under pressure every time and qualifying in races, to battle for these positions more than what I have done, that's still something I look forward to, racing against Max a bit more and racing against the Ferraris a bit more and that kind of thing, which is something we've not done. I've not done a huge amount over the last few years. So, yeah, like I'm not overconfident. I'm not underconfident. I feel like I'm at a good balance of accepting where we are. And I still think we're the third best team at the minute, but that could change if we have another good weekend here. And I'm confident with how the team are doing with our rate of development, which is better than any other team on the grid, that by next year we can challenge a lot more often for wins. In the big picture, hopefully, a challenge for a title.

Q: (Christian Nimmervoll – Motorsporttotal.com) Lando, first of all, congratulations. You just elaborated on your title chances. Do you think that, given that in Miami with the upgrade, you had the fastest car, if the championship would start now, you'd actually be quite on equal footing with Max? And do you think there's a chance that the first five weekends may cost you a shot at the title?

LN: At the minute, I think we're still too far behind. I think that's where we pace ourselves in a good amount, and I think I pace myself and the team do, that it was just one weekend. And to come here, I mean, Miami, we definitely weren't expecting to be as good as we were, and that was a nice surprise. China, a similar thing. So maybe that's hopefully something we can continue, is that we can be better than we expect at certain races. But we're not a mile away. We're talking one or two tenths a lap at this point between being ahead in qualifying and being able to stay ahead in the race versus being behind and just not having what it takes. I don't think at the minute we have the package from the beginning of a race, beginning of every weekend to the end of every weekend. I think we have more work to do. I don't think we're on par with Ferrari and with what Red Bull have. But we're getting closer. So I think we needed a couple more of the steps that we had in Miami. And then I think, yes, we can start to talk a little bit more about that kind of thing. But for now, I don't think we have the package from the beginning of the season to the end. But we're catching up.

Q: (Matt Coch – SpeedCafe.com) Daniel, Laurent Mekies said in Miami that part of what they're trying to do within the team is develop the car to make you more comfortable in it and tailoring development to you. Can you elaborate on what that is from your perspective? What are you looking for?

DR: I think last year, I would say when I joined the team and got myself into a few races, set up directions, started to diverge a bit. That means going away? Yeah. I think that I certainly was happy with the direction that I was looking for or taking the car. And then, honestly, ultimately, Yuki started to explore a little bit that as well. And I think we both ended up liking that. And now we're both pretty much in a similar place with what we want from the car and where we like it in terms of set-up. So obviously after the first few races, yeah, I understand that there was a few things that we were trying to get on top of. We being, let's say, me and my side of the garage. But it wasn't necessarily doing a whole lot… I was still happy with the car and that it was just obviously the lap time was a little bit of the question mark, ultimately. So obviously we changed the chassis in China and I think some might say that it did nothing, but for me, I do feel like, at least my feeling, but also on paper, it looks like my season's taken a pretty big turnaround. So, you know, for now, that was something that was, I think, definitely positive. And we're just trying to get a bit more out of the car. But there's nothing really specific where I'm saying, ‘guys, we really need this’. I think both Yuki and myself are asking for similar things. With a bit more of my experience, I guess maybe there's a few more things I can lean in on and ask from the team. But a long-winded answer. Honestly, nothing in particular. We're just trying to find lap time. And the team's done a good job. Miami was a good little update to the floor and gave us a bit more what we needed for maybe the first sector in Miami. Yeah, it's clear the direction we need to go to catch the top teams, and I think the team's doing a good job of trying to give us all we can. And Laurent's been great in the team, so happy having him on board.

Q: (Jake Boxall-Legge – Autosport) A question for Kevin, but I'll bring everyone else in on this in a minute. It seems that the FIA is going to consider perhaps changing the going off the track and gaining an advantage penalty to potentially a drive-through or something like that. Is that something that you would back, given you were kind of at the centre of that last weekend? And then for everybody else, obviously much more gravel and less run-off at this circuit this weekend. Is that something that you're all quite happy with to help combat that?

KM: I think the best thing would be for the FIA to tell us to give back positions and then the consequence for not doing that being harsh, like really harsh, so you make sure that that's being done. Because, you know, I think it gets too, firstly, complicated and also too big a consequence. You have to be able to leave a little bit of room to go over the limit and then come back from that. Whereas now, if they judge it to be an unfair advantage and it's a drive-through penalty, I think that's not good. I've raced in IndyCar, and I love the way they race over there. I feel the rules are very clear and very simple, and the racing is great. The racing has to be great amongst the 20 best drivers in the world. I think that is also part of it. One thing is that the Formula 1 drivers are fast, but also very good at racing. You have to showcase that. That has to be part of it. We all came from karting and learned to race each other. And I feel now, certainly for myself, with the guidelines this year, some of that is going against the natural racing dynamic that we've all learned as young kids. But I know that's a separate issue to the going off and holding people back and all the stuff that I got penalties for, I think that can be solved with telling us to give back positions. And the penalty for not doing that would be very, very harsh. Tracks. You mentioned tracks. I think that's a big part too. I raced, as I said, in IndyCar and also in sports cars in America. I did the whole championship in America. One thing that stood out was the tracks and how unbelievably different they are to F1 tracks. The cars over there, they are low as well. We bounce around in the sports cars over there. I don't see it that different from here. I'm sitting next to a lot of drivers here, but I feel like we are very sensitive to track stuff in Formula 1. I like the rough tracks. I prefer those, but also to the racing issue, tracks that have grass or gravel on the outside, you just put this natural limit in and it sorts itself out. So I feel like that is also an issue in Formula 1, just the tracks in general.

Q: Pierre, I don't know if you've done your track walk yet, but can we get your thoughts on the increased amounts of gravel here at Imola?

PG: Yeah, I think it's great. Just exactly as Kevin said, it just sets the limit. And I think it works fine. You know, if you go over the limits, you get penalised and you can't get away with it. So I think get rid of all the track limits topic, which is great. If you make a mistake, you pay the price for it. And I do believe that's how it should be because with all this run-off and tarmacs, then you tend to sometimes get away with limits, with lock-ups, trying more stuff, go off the track, come back without really much disadvantage and kind of lost a bit the way it was in the past. And I think most drivers have been pushing to go in that direction. It's just great to see F1 has reacted to it positively and decided to make these changes here.

Q: (Zsolt Godina – F1vilag.hu) Lando, it was a brave decision from McLaren to introduce the upgrades in Miami, which was a sprint weekend. Can you please describe a little bit this victory from the team's point of view? How much improvement have been made in the last few years in terms of managing the weekend, decision-making, and so on?

LN: Yeah. I mean, the team, in short, have improved in every area. There's been a lot of effort, a lot of effort in improving in every area. That's not just on making the car quicker, but team morale, reliability, pit stops, strategy. Everything has to improve in order for us to win more races and for us to do better, not just have a quicker car, even though that is the main thing in the end of the day. So if we look back to where we were in Miami last year, we were last. We were out in Q1. I think we were last and second last in the race. Basically couldn't get any worse. So for us to go from there to where we are now, We made a big step in Austria last year, but this was a step that just put us close to the top few teams. But now we're, let's say, the third best team. I think that's clear. We've challenged Ferrari a good amount, but we're not challenging, say, Red Bull enough or to the same amount. But this is all down to the people. This is down to the maximising people, maximising their abilities. Some of the people that we have now, we've had for many, many years, the same people we had five, six years ago. It's not just new people that we've hired, which have suddenly gone, ‘OK, you should be doing this, you should be doing that’. Some of it is just maximizing the potential of the people you have and exploiting those areas and letting people kind of work in a good environment using the great minds that we have. And adding that by adding some new people with fresh minds and different perspectives and kind of just maximising how a team should work. That's probably been the biggest area of improvement,  maximising everyone's abilities and knowing how to do that, which has often been led, and I'd say had the biggest difference, since Andrea came in and stepped up. A lot of stuff has been led by Andrea and a lot of changes have happened under Andrea's lead. When something needs to happen, it happens. And he's made a very good impact to the team. But the main thing is he’s a racer, he wants to know how we work as racing drivers and kind of get our outlook on things. But he's a people person. He's a guy who understands people, what they want, what they need, and how to maximise a person's potential. And that's the main thing that he's done.
 


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