Monaco Grand Prix Drivers' Conference

Monaco Grand Prix Drivers' Conference

With: DRIVERS – Esteban OCON (Alpine), Yuki TSUNODA (RB), George RUSSELL (Mercedes), Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing), Alex ALBON (Williams), Charles LECLERC (Ferrari)

 

Q: Charles, let's start with you. Home turf, how confident are you feeling coming into the weekend?

Charles LECLERC: I'm feeling good. Obviously, it's always a very special feeling, the Monaco week. I think it is for all the drivers, but for me specifically, having grown up here, it’s extra special, so I'm really looking forward to it. We've always been competitive here, so I hope it will be just the same this weekend. However, the finality of the weekend hasn't ever been the one I wanted, which we have worked on a lot. We've done our preparation in the best possible way. I hope that this weekend will be the good one.

 

Q: Two poles, but a best race result of fourth. What would a podium at home mean to you?

CL: Not much. I mean, second or third is not really something that excites me. So the win is what we need to target. We've seen in the last few races that Red Bull, McLaren and ourselves are pretty close in qualifying. And we know how important qualifying is here. So we'll have to put everything together. And if we're on pole, then that will give us good chances to get what we want, which is the win.

 

Q: How realistic is pole for you this weekend?

CL: I feel like in Monaco, you always start a little bit from scratch. As much as what we've seen in the last few races, I think it won't be too different. There still can be some surprises. We've seen it in 2021, I think, with us, where we were nowhere but then we got to Monaco and our car was working very well. So we'll have to see after Friday where we are compared to the others. But I will be surprised if we are not in the mix for pole, at least.

 

Q: Alright. Best of luck. Thank you, Charles. Alex, coming to you now. Welcome. Hello. Monaco hasn't been the best track for Williams in recent years. Do you think the outcome will be any different this year?

Alex ALBON: I would say, generally, the philosophy of the car should improve the car around this kind of track. So, marginally optimistic. Let's see. I think generally we've made a step forward in low-speed corners this year. And obviously, Monaco, that is it.

 

Q: Talk to us about the challenge of Monaco. Which is your favourite section of track?

AA: For me, I would say it's all of Sector 3. I think it's quite flowing around there. This feeling of just glancing around the walls and that's a lot of fun. You start to touch them a few times and then it's just about how much margin is it before a wheel starts coming off. But that part is, at least for me, the most fun. It's more just about Saturday though. I think that's what makes it special. When you think about qualifying laps and the feeling of, you know, it's not so much of a Sunday race for the drivers, I would say, it's more focusing on Saturday and when you deliver those laps in qualifying, with the adrenaline in your body, that's pretty cool.

 

Q: Alright. Look forward to that. Thank you. Best of luck to you. Max, coming to you now. It was a brilliant win on Sunday for you at Imola, but it wasn't a smooth weekend for you and the team. Any concerns that you're going to have similar issues this weekend?

Max VERSTAPPEN: It's a completely different track. I think, looking at the track layout, it's probably not going to be our best track, just because our car normally struggles a bit over bumps and kerbs. We did work on it a bit compared to last year. I think so far, on most of the tracks that we've been to, our low-speed performance has improved a little bit. But I don't think this is going to be a very easy weekend. But I think Monaco never is very straightforward, even when you are supposed to have the best car. Monaco is a very tricky track to get everything to work, get the tyres to work, in a quali lap, for example, red flags, there's always a lot of disruption and a lot of things can go right, but also a lot of things can go wrong. So yeah, we just need to be on it. Of course, Imola started off really bad and we managed to turn it around. I wouldn't want to have a weekend like that again. It's quite stressful and not nice, but we know that this is a more difficult track for us, even though we have won here in the past. It's quite complicated so we'll see where we're at tomorrow.

 

Q: Charles thinks he can be in the mix for pole position on Saturday. Do you think Ferrari and McLaren are going to be challenging you closely?

MV: Yeah, I mean, naturally from outside, I think it is one of the more difficult tracks for us. Plus, in the last few years, I think Ferrari has always been very, very strong here. Plus, McLaren lately, the last two races, have really ramped up in performance. So they for sure are the ones to watch as well. And in Monaco, you might have some surprises. I mean, last year, Esteban did an amazing lap as well in qualifying. So these kind of things in Monaco, they can happen when someone feels really good. and confident, so we'll see what happens.

 

Q: Alright, best of luck to you. Thank you, Max. George, coming to you now. A lot of positive comments coming out of Mercedes after the race on Sunday at Imola. Where is the car better after this latest raft of upgrades?

George RUSSELL: Yeah, the car is definitely more balanced through the lap now. We were struggling a lot at the start of the year, balancing the high- to low-speed corners. And I think we have made progress. when you look at the gap to Red Bull, when you look at the gap to the rest of the midfield, we have moved forward. But I do think it's fair to say Ferrari and McLaren have moved forward at the same rate. So we need to keep on working, bringing those upgrades to the car. And the whole team are working flat out right now to bring those upgrades as quick as possible.

 

Q: You finished fifth here for the last two years. Do you have the performance to finish higher than that on merit?

GR: I think as the guys have been saying, Monaco is so challenging. There are so many disruptions throughout the whole weekend and you just need to find that sweet spot. The track's evolving so much, it's getting faster and faster, often up to three seconds quicker in qualifying than it is in a practice one. So even if you have a good Friday, you need to be ready to adapt moving into Saturday. And, you know, we saw today. I was sort of in the engineering meeting and it was bright blue sunshine and I came out and it was pouring down with rain. So that could add some spice to things.

 

Q: But do you think the low-speed performance of the car will help you?

GR: I think we've known all season that we struggle to balance high- to low-speed. We can either get it quite competitive in low-speed and we struggle at high speed or vice versa. So we are hoping that with relatively consistent corner speeds at this circuit, that we should be slightly more competitive.

 

Q: Alright. Best of luck to you. Thank you. Yuki, coming to you, things are going well for you. You've scored points in four of the last five races. How do you assess your performance so far this year?

Yuki TSUNODA: Yeah, feeling good for sure. The team also helped me for sure. The car performance this year, is very consistent, easy to adapt as well. So generally, initially already from FP1, we have good pace. So yeah, very happy, as a team, as well to keep being able to extract performance [like in] previous races and so far enjoying as well.

 

Q: Q3 here last year. How confident are you of a repeat this time around?

YT: Yeah, I think I'm feeling more optimistic compared to probably, yeah, before Imola or whatever. But actually, Imola, we had a bit of a surprise with the amount of performance we had in the race week. It can be opposite as well, so we never know. But, yeah, I had a good memory last year, so I'm feeling more confident for sure compared to the first year in Monaco. And, yeah, if the team can perform well, as much as Imola, that would be great.

 

Q: Good luck to you, Esteban, coming to you. Talking of good memories of last year, you had a fabulous Monaco Grand Prix, didn't you? Finishing on the podium, just what chance to repeat? How confident are you coming into this weekend?

Esteban OCON: For sure, last year was a great memory. But I think we'll keep fit to the ground for this year. I think we've had a difficult start of the season where we've struggled to get into the top 10 very much. We only got one point as a team. So for us, it's going to be important to try and maximise everything this year, try and build on the confidence, try and see if we can improve the weaknesses out of the car and yeah, see where that leads up until qualifying. But no, we don't expect to be on the podium this weekend.

 

Q: You said in Imola that the one-lap pace has improved. So do you see Monaco as your best chance of the season so far to score points?

EO: I think it has improved, but we started very far. We started on the last row this season and we end up being now regularly into Q2 and close to the top ten. So there are improvements, but they are small improvements that we are doing every time. Yes, I feel at this track you can usually extract a little bit more, you know, in terms of driving, getting close to the wall, taking risks. That usually pays in your favour if you do a good lap. But at the moment, you know, we struggle with the car and we need to see where we'll end up in terms of result.

 

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR 

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Max, to you. Now, there was a time, remember the old days, when we felt that you could turn up with three wheels and go and win a race. But things seem to have changed around a little bit. The competition seems to have got stronger and this weekend could be the most competitive we've seen this season. Do you feel that? And do you feel that's a trend that might continue into future races after Monaco?

MV: Yeah, I mean, I think after Miami, it was quite clear when we went into Imola, it had all closed up quite a bit, even though Imola was probably also not our easiest weekend. But for sure, Monaco is always like that anyway. And it will depend now who will put more performance on the car, find the best possible set-up on the car. But, for sure, things have closed up which makes, I think from our side, makes it of course very important to try and be at our very best, 100%. I know that is not always a very realistic possibility, but you always try to get to a certain point and maybe the last few races we haven't been operating at that but, yeah, every single weekend we try again and try to find the best possible set-up in the car. But for sure, you can see it's definitely closing up.

 

Q: (Nelson Valkenburg – ViaPlay) For all of you, if possible. Monaco seems to be a track where the driver can make the difference in qualifying. Does that add pressure? Does it make it even more fun to do this Saturday?

CL: I think what you have in Monaco that you have maybe a little bit less on other tracks, on other city tracks as well, is just a risk assessment. And that's where a driver can make a bit more the difference by taking more risk. It either pays off or not at all. But this is something that I particularly appreciate from this track. As soon as you try and go a bit more on the limit, you straight away see it on the lap time. And obviously coming into Q3, having done so many laps, you start to get pretty close with the walls. But it's exciting. I don't get that feeling anywhere else on the calendar. So I think risk assessment is what makes the difference here in Monaco.

 

AA: Yeah, same as Charles. I would say that it's not really a pressure in terms of comparing yourself to rivals or whatever, but it's more just yourself. And it's kind of this feeling of, you know, how much risk are you taking? And that bit is exciting. I think it's one of the few races, as Charles said, maybe the only race, where you finish a lap and you feel like you've put it on the line. So that's pretty unique.

 

Q: Esteban, talk us through that lap last year. How much on the limit was that?

EO: Well, it was because I touched the wall twice! But, you know, yeah, as Charles said, I think that's very exciting. You know, once you start to feel that you are putting a very good lap together, there's no feeling like it. And what is stressful, I would say, is, you know, in Saturday, having the most important part of the weekend, it’s usually 80% of your weekend, but there it's probably 99%. And that's what makes it more stressful, the Saturdays, compared to a normal weekend.

 

Q: (Mariana Becker – TV Bandeiras) It's for you, Charles. Now you're a superstar, famous and everything. To whom in Monaco are you still Madame Pascal Leclerc's son? You're still the son of someone, not Charles Leclerc. 

CL: I guess to my family, to my friends. This has never really changed. I'm always the person I was before getting into Formula 1. But I was actually having the discussion yesterday. I had an event in the centre of Monaco and I could see people I was in school with, taking pictures of myself, when actually 10 or 15 years ago I was just in the middle of everybody and nobody was expecting that. So it's funny. It's strange that the perception of others changes so much. At the end I'm always the same person. However, of course, in a very different position than what I was back then. I guess for my family and my friends, I'm always the same person, which is important to have those people around me. Helps to keep your feet on the ground, which is important because in Formula 1, it's a world that is a bit apart. So yeah, it's good to have those people around me.

 

Q: (Roldan Rodriguez – DAZN, Spain) A question to Max. Last race, it looks like maybe McLaren was a faster car than Red Bull in the qualifying race. And the question is, what do you think you as a driver makes you faster or special than the other drivers?

MV: I find that really difficult to comment on. I can just speak from my experience in Formula 1, where I think over time, you have a lot more experience. I think you know how to handle certain situations a bit better. Plus, being at the front for quite a few years, as a team, also the way we operate, I think it can make a difference to teams that are trying to chase that. We just try to stay calm and collected. We know that the last few races teams have been catching up or have beaten us, so of course we want to try and improve as well. But I do think with the experience that we've had over the last few years, it makes us a very tough team to beat in a championship because we don't make many mistakes. Of course, naturally, you try to always optimise everything, and that's, I think, in life in general – you keep on learning, you keep on trying to be better. But I think that does make us very dangerous in a championship fight.

 

Q: Alex, can we bring you in on this? You've been Max's team-mate. When you looked at his data, what was he doing that stood out?

AA: OK. I would say mostly, you know, the first thing was the feeling of being up to speed all the time. I think from the first lap, I think you see it, even in FP1s, there's quite a big push on for Max to set purples early on. And he's just quick. I think there's not really anything to it. As Max has said, it's something that we all strive for. It's not having weaknesses. And, you know, whenever you do have a weakness, you work on it and you try to get rid of it. I think Max has kind of not got an area where you can really find an edge, so it makes it difficult.

 

Q: (Craig Slater – Sky Sports) A question for Charles. This isn't a power-limited circuit, Charles, but there's been some talk about the Ferrari power unit and maybe how it deploys the hybrid element. Is it a particular concern of yours, and given the engine freeze, is there anything the team, if there is an issue, can do to work on that? 

CL: No, it's not a concern. Obviously we have seen it in the last race a little bit. We've seen it in Jeddah a little bit, but i think it's more the way we manage everything and it's not something that is set in stone that we cannot change short term. So we just have to look into it, but it's no big deal. But it seems that Red Bull and McLaren was on the positive side of things in Imola and we missed a little bit of time on that. We have looked into it. I don't think that here it will make such a difference. It's a very different situation we are in. However, it can for the rest of the season. So we've done a proper analysis on our side and I'm sure we'll grow from that.

 

Q: (Panagiotis Seitanidis – ANTI TV) A question for Charles, and I don't know if anybody else wants to share an opinion. Charles, the game of the Nazionale Piloti, the football team of Formula 1 was cancelled, unfortunately. But we still have two big finals coming up with Olympiacos and Fiorentina and Real Madrid with Dortmund. Do you follow the games, and do you have any predictions about the finals?

CL: I am probably the worst person to ask that to. I love football. I love playing football. Unfortunately, as you said, the Nazionale Piloti game was cancelled, which is a shame, but I hope it can come back next year. However, I haven't really followed until now. I'll probably watch the last game, but I haven't watched until now, so I don't have much more to comment on that.

 

MV: I mean, my teams are not in the final, so for me, it doesn't matter who wins the final. I mean, I like to watch it. I will watch it. But when you don't have a particular favourite, you just try to have a good game in front of you, right? And, yeah, I hope that happens. Also, for some players, maybe, you know, here and there, it's going to be their final match with their team, so it can be quite emotional, I think, in Champions League, for sure, for two players in the two different teams. So, yeah, it's always quite special, I think. So I will enjoy watching that.

Q: Come on, Max, who do you want to win the Champions League?

MV: I literally don't care because my team is not in it, so I'm just watching.

Q: (Albert Fabrega – ESPN LATAM) Do you think that deleting the quickest lap time of a driver causing a yellow or red flag during qualifying, it could be a good system for a particular track like this one, for example?

EO: I think, if I'm correct, that's being looked at by the FIA. I think recently we've discussed that in some drivers' meetings, that a situation where a driver would cause a red flag would be monitored. So I think that should be something sensible to be doing because we've seen in the past drivers causing issues and the others not being able to do a lap. Yeah, that should be something that the FA monitors, I think.

GR: Yeah, I agree with Esteban. We obviously have laps deleted all the time in qualifying for track limits. I think if you were to cause a yellow flag or red flag, you should probably have your best lap deleted. Yeah, nothing more to say about that.

MV: I think it's a good idea. 

Q: (Stéphanie Saad – BeIn Sport) I want to ask Max, so we know that half of winning in Monaco is actually pole position and you have achieved pole position all races so far. So do we expect you to win the race as usual, especially on such a unique track?

MV: Like I said before, it's always a very, very difficult weekend to get everything together and be on pole here. So I don't want to really think ahead too far. Of course, the start of the year in terms of qualifying has been new to me as well. I think so far it's been going really well in qualifying. So of course I'll try to, but it's not a guarantee, not a given, especially around Monaco.

Q: (Roldan Rodriguez –DAZN, Spain) A question to George. Last race, your team-mate said that he would prefer Kimi Antonelli in Mercedes-Benz next year. I would like to know your opinion. Who is in pole for next year in Mercedes?

GR: Yeah, I think, you know, Kimi is a fantastic driver, obviously racing in Formula 2 this year, but he's no doubt going to be a Formula 1 driver in the future and he's a fellow junior driver as well, coming through the ranks, as I did with the team. So I think it makes for a great opportunity for Mercedes building into the future. But as I said before, I'd welcome anybody as my team-mate. I feel like I've got a pretty good team-mate right now as it is. So yeah, welcome anybody.

Q: Max, can I bring you in on this? What's it like being a 17-year-old coming into this environment? What is the most intimidating aspect of it?

MV: Well, hopefully nothing too intimidating, but, you know, you're such a rookie, you know, that there's so many things that you still have to learn. I mean, for me personally, the biggest one was actually doing a full race distance, you know. Like, in F3 at the time, you know, you did 35 minute races. So, you know, there's a lot more involved. Looking after your tyres is a big part of it. You know, these tyres are so particular and sensitive compared to some other categories. Of course, in F2, F3, you're running on Pirellis already. But for me at the time, that wasn't the case. But yeah, just, you know, going through the good moments, the bad moments, how you come out of these things, difficult weekends, where it's just not working for you or whatever. Like, there's so much to learn. But on the other hand, also, don't try to think about it too much. Just let it go. When you're talented – and you can see that with Kimi, he's very talented – I don't think you should be too worried, you know, just... make mistakes. I mean you have to make mistakes. Ideally, of course, you like to make those mistakes when you're not fighting for championships or whatever, so I also got lucky with that, you know, starting at Toro Rosso at the time, not many people are looking at you all the time, so you can make some silly mistakes here and there. But it's important to make them because even though you tell yourself all the time I cannot do this or I cannot do that, you will only adapt really if you make them and then move forward. And yeah, just in general, growing up as a person as well, I guess, even outside the car, knowing what you want in your private life. And then it's just understanding the set-up of a racing car more and more over time. Of course cars evolve, but when you're with one particular team, at one point you know more or less what works or not. Being with the same kind of race engineers and people around you that fine tune the car for you, all these kind of things, the more you spend time with them, the more it comes to you. But again, don't try to think about it too much, just let it happen. When you're that young, just focus on trying to go as fast as you can, make your mistakes, you know, have good race results and just, yeah. Well, try not to think about it too much. Now you can explain all of this, but at the time you don't know that, right? So it's like, just ease into it. And then you have good people around you normally in the team that will coach you around this.

Q: (Alex Kalinauckas – Autosport) Esteban, given how this year has gone and what you might already be able to see and know of the team's plans for 2025, can Alpine offer you what you need for your future? Thank you.

EO: I mean, at the moment, we are progressing. You know, we are improving step by step, doing little steps, of course. But yeah, I think you are kind of prompting me to a future question around here. But yeah, I'm basically focusing on what I have to do race by race, trying to optimise everything I can, you know, working well with my engineers. And, you know, at the moment, there's nothing else that I'm thinking about. And that should be the most important thing. As I’ve always said, if you do a good job on track there should be nothing stopping you in the future, so we will see. 

Q: (Stuart Codling – GP Racing) George, first of all, apologies for not asking about the current race weekend, monthly magazines swim in a different stream of the space/time continuum. Looking ahead to the British Grand Prix, how confident are you in the trajectory of development at Mercedes enabling you to do a job in front of your home crowd. 

GR: Always really excited to go to Silverstone, but I think we are on a really good trajectory at the moment. We are bringing upgrades really quickly to the car, which we are confident will bring performance. Historically, we have always gone well around Silverstone as well and I think now we are entering the European season things are a little bit more consistent, less Sprint races as well. We know from the past we are really good at building throughout the season so we are hoping by Silverstone we are going to be in that fight with the guys in front of us.

Q: (Giuseppe Marino – Motorline.com) My question is for Max and Charles. At the end of the Imola Grand Prix, a lot of people said that we are at the start of a new great moment for Formula 1 with three teams in the middle of the battle for winning races. What do you think about it? Thank you.

MV: I think the last three years have been great already! No, but of course in all seriousness I think it's good that you see other teams, they are also becoming more and more competitive – I guess naturally with the regulations, how they are. Over time people learn more and more what direction that they have to push into and it's good for the sport, you know, that more teams are fighting for the win.

CL: I don't want to kill the excitement but I wouldn't jump to conclusions too early. I mean it's been the last race has been pretty close. the one before as well. it was two particular tracks. It is also true that the two next tracks are also quite particular, being Monaco and Canada where kerb-riding is so important. And as Max said, it might not show the strength of their car. So I think we've got to wait a little bit more to try and understand exactly where we are in terms of performance. However, we are confident of our steps forward done with our upgrades. And we really hope that it will be enough to close the gap and to be soon on a par with them. And that will be great for Formula 1 in general. That's what we want.

Q: (Josh Suttill – The Race) Yuki, you're a free agent for next year. Are you looking to stay with your current team or are you exploring options elsewhere? And when can we expect to hear some news on your future?

YT: Yeah, I mean, so far very happy with the VCARB. I mean, now we're fighting, like, almost... Yeah, sometimes like even P7 or P8, so I mean other options… and like probably now the top teams are pretty much taken so… I mean, probably we're the strongest team in the midfield at least. We'll see. I think, obviously, especially when I'm in Red Bull, you want to always aim for Red Bull. But, you know, if they don't want me or, you know, they're not expecting me into the seat, yeah, if I've got an interesting offer that could be better than even VCARB or Red Bull, yeah, I'll think about it. But I also have a big loyalty to Red Bull as without them I wouldn't be here. And obviously Honda as well. And speaking of Honda, maybe Aston Martin, but you know, Aston also, they’re taken by two drivers. So yeah, I mean, it's pretty open, but so far I'm happy with VCARB.

Q: (Ronald Vording – Motorsport.com) It's a question to all of you. We are here at the iconic race weekend, but in a couple of weeks' time, we have another iconic race, in France, which is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Just wondering, as F1 drivers, how closely are you following the new, let's say, golden era with the Hypercars? And is the 24 Hours of Le Mans one of the races that you eye for the future? 

EO: Yeah, I've been following very much, also Alpine races in Hypercar at the moment and I will be in Le Mans as well for the 24 hours. It's great to see so many different manufacturers racing on the top class. And seeing so many cool fights as well. As I've always said, you know, Formula 1 is my target. It's what I want to be racing for a long time at the moment. But never say never. And for sure, at some stage, this is something I will be eyeing to.

Q: Esteban, of course, Formula One is the aim, but would you like to test the Alpine sports car, just out of interest?

EO: I think it's not the right moment now, no. Clearly not. But one day, for sure, if there's the opportunity, you know, to race in Le Mans, yeah, that's something I would love to do, you know, but not in the same time as Formula 1. When the good times arrive.

Q: Yuki, Le Mans? 

YT: Le Mans?

Q: Le Mans.

YT: Sorry, I was not listening to the question. Next year, Le Mans?

Q: Do you follow the World Endurance Championship? Would you like to race at Le Mans? 

YT: Yes. One day, yes. I think. I'm sorry, I'm very off now. Next drivers, please!

MV: Yuki, I need you as my teammate there. You're so light, you'll be flying. You can compensate for my weight!

Q: George, we'll come to you in a second. Max, just carry on. You've spoken about Le Mans in the past. You'd like to do it, wouldn't you?

MV: For sure. I mean, I remember when I was like 11, 12 years old, my dad was racing at Le Mans in LMP2 and then LMP1 the year after. It is something pretty incredible. I mean, even at the time, you know, you're a young kid, but just the whole atmosphere is fantastic. And the team element of it, because it's not only you, right? You have to work together with your team-mates to try and find the right compromise with the set-up. So, yeah, I've been following it a lot here and there you have a few chats as well. But at the moment, I think it's too early for me to enter because the new regulations as well, I think they need to sort out the BOP a little bit better between the cars. Like, it's a bit hit and miss here and there, I find. Plus, for me, also the driver weight. I feel like there needs to be a limit on that, because I might rock up, 80 kilos with kit, but there is also a driver that can be 55 or 60. No offence, Yuki! And I find like, when you go to Le Mans, you have no chance. You know, that already is a couple of tenths a lap. It's pretty incredible, the difference. So they need to sort that out. There needs to be an average or minimum, you know, weight that you need to comply to. But for sure in the future, I would like to race. Yeah, it's an incredible event.

GR: Yeah, I think definitely after my Formula 1 career, I would love to race in Le Mans and maybe even do it with some guys who are in F1 at the moment, I think it would be quite cool… 

Q: Who would be your team-mates from the current grid?

GR: Well, Alex and I spoke like a couple of years ago about doing like a GT race or something together, but I don't know who you'd want. But like Max said, I think, how things are in Le Mans at the moment, such a great championship, but iit is quite unfair to the guys of our weight. We're all sort of 80 kilos with our kit and our helmets. And you know, Yuki would have six tenths on us before we even start. So, but as I said, I think it's a very special race. I think we're all racers. 

EO: Six tenths a lap!? 

GR: Well, 20 kilos, 20 kilos. I think 20 kilos, six tenths a lap?

YT: I think I’ve found my dream job!

GR: Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, I think, as I said, we're all racers and, you know, we love racing in Formula 1 and that takes all of our effort. But in the future, for sure, we want to explore some of these awesome races.

AA: Yeah, I'm the same. I think it's definitely something that every driver most probably has on their bucket list, their to-do list. I would love to do a race with some of these guys, maybe my family as well. I don't know how I would do it, but definitely it’s up there. And I don't know, just imagine like we're all sharing a motorhome or an RV together and just... It would be good. I can see it now. But yes, I think weight, as everyone said, I think especially the taller guys would most probably need to chop off an arm to be competitive. But otherwise, yeah, it's going to happen at some point, I think.

CL: Yeah, I couldn't agree more on the weight limit that we have all mentioned. I follow it obviously more since two years, since Ferrari joined in the Hypercar category, and even more so this year as I've got my younger brother that started his endurance career in GT. So yeah, now I'm a bit more involved and following closer the whole category.

Q: And would you like to test the Ferrari?

CL: Oh, for sure. I mean, I would love to do Le Mans one day. I think we all have the same problem. The programme in Formula 1 now is crazy. It's crazy. And we've got very little time spare to prepare properly a race like Le Mans, because if I do Le Mans, I want to arrive there ready and there to go and win. So we've got to do the things seriously. And at the moment with the calendar of Formula 1, it's quite difficult. But I would love to partner with my younger brother to do Le Mans one day together.

Q: (Rodrigo França – Car Magazine, Brazil) Question to all. We're here in the same weekend of the 24th Film Festival of Cannes, and there's a lot of cinema and movie stars here. So my question is, what's your favourite movie of all time, and why?

EO: Yeah, I was in Cannes on Monday. I'm a massive Marvel fan, comics fan, and I got the chance to be sitting very close to Sebastian Stan, who was playing in the movie The Apprentice, which was quite a crazy experience. And yeah, to reply to the question, probably my favourite movie of all time is The Dark Knight Rises.

YT: I love the Transporter, Jason Statham. I love Jason Statham, so yeah, he's my guy.

GR: I always remember watching James Bond Casino Royale when I was a kid, so that was always my number one.

MV: Wolf of Wall Street or Hangover, yeah.

AA: I like the Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson. That's cool.

CL: Hangover is a cool one, but actually Harry Potter was probably my favourite growing up, and it remains one of my favorite movies. Oh yeah, big fan, huge fan! What? Yeah, I knew the lines. When I was 10 years old, I knew the lines of the movie. Yeah, of course. Everybody was telling me I was looking like Harry Potter as well.

AA: I was about to say, with glasses, you would look like Harry Potter.

GR: I have a video, one of the very first videos I have on my phone is of Charles, 2012, with the long hair. I don't know if you remember, it was in... Ortona? Is it the Italian WSK?

CL: Yeah, but I'm a bit worried about what you're going to say next.

GR: You put the broomstick between your legs and you're doing the sort of the wizard...

MV: You're not making it any better!

CL: Keep that video for yourself!

MV: I would like to see that one.

Q: (Luke Smith from The Athletic) Max, a question for you. I know street circuits, you're not the biggest fan of them, but is there something special about Monaco, particularly winning around Monaco? Obviously, it comes with a lot of noise around the race as well, but is there something that sets apart from other events, particularly in an era where we've got Vegas and Miami bringing that extra glitz?

MV: Yeah, I do think compared to like any other street circuit, because it's so narrow, I find it's even more challenging. And especially in qualifying, you can feel like your heart rate, you know, just the adrenaline rush you get around here. You don't really get that on any other... 

GR: It was a photo! 

MV: Ha! He was ready to take off! Just, yeah, [Monaco] is something else. I mean, yeah, I'm not a fan of street circuits, but for sure in qualifying here, you know, the attention to detail. Yeah, it's crazy. And yeah, that definitely makes it very special. I do think that up until the point I didn't win here, you know, the pressure of wanting to win. Monaco was always very high. You really wanted to show off. But I feel like that's a bit different now. You're probably a bit more relaxed. Of course, in qualifying, you go for it. But I approach it more as just another weekend where, of course, I would like to win, but it's very important to just score points and don't do anything silly.

Q: (Joost Smedema – NOS.NL) Max, Lando Norris stated yesterday that he's hoping that he's not ruling out that he can put the pressure on a title race this season. How do you look at that? How do you comment on that? And does it mean anything for your approach?

MV: No, for sure. I mean, I think everyone should think like that, especially I think after their last two races, you know, they are really in the mix. Of course, there are quite a few points down at the moment. But, you know, if you suddenly start winning, then, you know, it can turn around quite quickly. And from our side, you know, we just keep on trying to improve our package. And my approach has always been the same. You know, that doesn't matter about anyone else involved or another team involved. We just have to focus on ourselves, you know, because that's the only thing that we can control.

Q: (Enrico Ahlig – Bild) My question is for Max. So a few weeks ago, you told the media that you always want to sit in the fastest car. So in the last two races, McLaren were kind of faster than the Red Bull. So is this a problem for you, for your attitude? And does it mean that you want to drive for McLaren now?

MV: Well, it doesn't work like that. I mean, I think we still have a very, very fast car. And if you look at the average of the season so far, I think we do have the fastest car. Otherwise, you're not leading the championship. But I'm happy where I'm at. There's so much investment going on as well with the engine side of things. And I'm happy. We just need to keep on working, keep on trying to improve our package. But yeah, that's the only thing that I'm thinking about at the moment. I mean, I think if you start thinking like that, you can almost change at one point every single race if you want to change to another team or whatever. But it's not on my mind.

Q: (Sam Johnston, Sky Sports) A question for George. There was quite a lot of confidence coming from Toto and James in Imola about your 2026 engine. I was just interested to see how much you know about that and how much confidence that gives you for 2026, albeit far off? 

GR: Yeah I mean ordinarily 2026 seems like a long time away but in the world of Formula 1 it's going to be here tomorrow and the team are feeling really confident for this era. I think you know the experience of the team have had, the success in 2014 with the new powertrain, and then obviously the time in Formula E, the work that was done with the Hypercar. There are a lot of individuals within HPP who have got so much experience with this future technology. So I think that leaves us in a really great place to have a great engine. And the work Petronas are doing on the fuel as well is looking really strong. So on the engine side, I think we're feeling very confident for that era.


Related Motorsport Articles

84,671 articles