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Monaco GP: Wednesday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
20/05/2015

Lewis, we have to start with you. Congratulations on your new contract. Why is Mercedes the right choice for you for the next few years?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, hi, everyone. It's the first time I've seen so many people in the room for a long time. Well, I mean, I've been with Mercedes a long, long time, they were a part of getting me to Formula One. When I signed in, what was it - '97 - at McLaren-Mercedes, they were hugely influential in guiding me to Formula One and I've only ever driven for Mercedes, so it was natural to want to continue with them. Plus, obviously I joined this team and we've had amazing success. I'm very, very happy with the package and the group of people that I have within this team. So it was a very easy decision to make and it's also great that the team wanted to continue working with me.

This is your ninth Monaco Grand Prix. You were the winner back in 2008, your first championship-winning season. Can you put into words what this event means to you?
LH: It's a great race. It's great fun. It's another race. Naturally, it's special for everyone. But it's Monaco, I live here, it's one of my favourite places in the world to go. The track is incredible. It's the one track we have which is special on another level and it generally always turns our to be one of the most amazing weekends of the year. Not only for us but for people who get to come and enjoy the weekend.

OK, thank you for that. Jenson, coming to you, you've raced here I think 14 of the last 16 years - you've been here 16 years but you've raced 14 times - winner in '09. Is the Monaco win still the most important one on your CV?
Jenson Button: Good afternoon everyone. The win? Probably not so much. I think Monaco, as we all know, it's very difficult to overtake [here]. So Saturday is probably more important than Sunday. Probably the most important pole position I've ever had, yeah, and that really made my weekend.

You expressed a few concerns about the car during the Spanish Grand Prix last time out. How have those been resolved and what sort of shape does McLaren-Honda present itself here in Monaco this weekend?
JB: Yeah, as you might have noticed, I was very outspoken. When emotions are running high you always exaggerate things. It was a tough race for me in Barcelona. It was good to have the test three days later, also in Barcelona, to really put everything right. The car felt much nice to drive, much more consistent, especially on the long-run pace. We also had some new parts to test for this season, but also specifically for here. It was a good test. So, really end of the test, happy and you could see how far we have come since February, as a whole team but especially Honda and the Japanese side of the team. There was so much more confidence within and really happy to complete the amount of laps we did but also to do a lot of very useful work. It was a really good day and hopefully we can carry that through to this weekend.

Thank you for that. Marcus, you finished 11th here last year. Obviously you've switched teams since then. How do you think the Sauber will go this weekend?
Marcus Ericsson: I think we have a good base to work from. I usually go well on street tracks as well, so I'm looking forward to this one. Like you say last year I had a really good race here, finishing 11th. So hopefully I can finish a couple of places higher and get back in the points. I think that's the main aim for us.

Qualifying for you started well this season but it's not been so strong since China. What's the reason for that and how do you feel about qualifying here in Monaco with all the walls and the barriers?
ME: Yeah, we've been struggling a little bit to get the maximum out on new tyres, whereas in the races we've been better. We've been working, I think especially in the test in Barcelona, we did some work on one-lap pace and we found some good improvements, so hopefully we can bring that here. Obviously this is very important to have the one-lap pace but I'm feeling confident and hopefully we can be back fighting for points again on Sunday.

Thank you for that. Valtteri, perhaps surprisingly you've never been in the points or even in Q3 here in Monaco, so is this year that you crack the streets of Monte Carlo?
Valtteri Bottas: I really hope so. The first year obviously was tough. We didn't have that easy a car around here and not much space to fight for the points really. Last year was unlucky with engine failure but, yeah, with a normal race we should be able to get some points and I really hope they will be good points as well.

Well, Lewis has done his but there's been a lot of speculation about your future. What's the right place for Valtteri Bottas going forward?
VB: Well, that's too early to say. At the moment I am completely focusing on getting the best results at this moment, as a team, working, with the best I can do to go forward. It's too early to say, that's all I can do.

Thank you. Romain, you've been in the points in the last three grands prix, getting back into the groove. Do you feel there's scope to challenge Williams?
Romain Grosjean: Well, it's one of the tracks where you always... you don't know what's going to happen, how the car is going to work. As everyone says, qualifying is the key around here. Sometimes there is a surprise - I don't even remember... I went from P19 to P8 last year, after a first-lap puncture. You always have to do your best around the track and avoid any contact with the wall.

Tell us about your personal relationship with this track, because you won pole in GP2 but you've had mixed fortunes in a Formula One car. How do feel about this place?
RG: Yeah, I've been winning, I've been fast, sometimes too fast for to go our of the race... especially in 2013 when I had the confidence back with my and I was pushing hard. I think I crashed three times in free practice - that was far too much. But it's all about confidence and finding the limit with the car. There are a few laps where you can really enjoy, which are the qualifying laps, where you take everything you have in the car and try to go around, which is a nice feeling and then when you're leading the race from pole your life is a bit easier than on other tracks.

Coming to you Kimi, you're another former winner of the Monaco Grand Prix. Is Monaco a race where Ferrari can hope to challenge Mercedes, given the nature of the circuit but particularly the tyres that are on offer this weekend?
Kimi Raikkonen: It's hard to say, obviously. We have go into the weekend and see how it goes tomorrow and go from there. But I expect us to be as good as we've been this year at least and then obviously whatever happens over the weekends we will see. But I think it's a pretty normal race weekend for us, even though it's always a special place.

Tell us your assessment of Ferrari's latest updates, why you made the decisions you did in Spain? Obviously you've spoken a bit about that already but having reflected on that since Spain, what do you expect here and going forward?
KR: Obviously we think that they are good parts; otherwise they would not be on the car at all. No, there were certain things we wanted to learn and I was prepared to take the chance and work for the long future for all of us. I think we learned things and I'm sure that we will get them working 100 per cent in the future. Maybe here I think they should be fine. You know, every circuit, every condition is different. It was a bit of a tricky weekend for us but I'm sure we'll be better here and in upcoming races. Like I said, it wasn't ideal for us but the aim is to improve. We have come still a long way from last year and we want to improve and improve and we have to keep working.

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