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British GP: Thursday Press Conference


Jenson, let's start with you, 2009 Formula One World Champion? A positive result in Austria showed clear improvement in car pace. Was that circuit and tyre-specific or do you expect that to roll out this weekend and the weekends to come in the best few weeks?
Jenson Button: First of all, good afternoon. I would say it was weather-dependent rather than tyres. I think the conditions helped us quite a lot. In the wet we were pretty quick and in the drying conditions we made the best of it. Put it P5, and obviously got lifted up to P3 and was running P2 for a bit of the race but were quickly put into our place. But considering that, I don't think P6 was too bad. The three teams in front of us were a massive amount quicker than us but to beat the cars that we did, we did alright. Coming here I don't expect to be qualifying fifth, unless we get some really good British weather and have a good downpour, which I'm hoping for, because then I think we do have more of an opportunity. Yeah, we'll see. Then race is going to be reasonably tricky for us here. The car is very good in low-speed corners. High-speed corners we don't really know. We do have some upgrades, aero-wise, engine-wise, so it's moving forward. It's just never as a quick as you hope is it. But the guys are doing a very good job of bringing something to every race and on the power side it should be a positive step.

That's performance, but in nine races McLaren has only managed to get both cars to the finish on three occasions. Is that because you are pushing it so hard in development or is reliability a bit of a concern?
JB: I don't think so. If you look at a lot of teams, cars aren't finishing and yeah, so I don't think that is an issue. I would rather be pushing things to the limit and getting better results and possibly having some reliability issues. We're not fighting for a world championship this year, far from it, so it's important for is to try to maximise what we have, enjoy the weekend and get the best out of what we have on the weekend and I think they are doing a good job of balancing that.

Thank you. Romain, turning to you, you were back in the points in Austria, your fourth time this year scoring points, the first time since Russia. It was based on a long stint on the tyres. Were you encouraged by what you achieved in Austria?
Romain Grosjean: Yeah, I thin Austria was a good weekend for us. I think qualifying could have been a bit better but then the car felt great for the long run on tyres. We understood a bit better how to use them, so hopefully we can transform that and keep it going here in Silverstone. Then in the race the car felt good. We managed to get the one-stop strategy that we planned working. It's a shame we didn't have enough speed to just overtake the McLaren but generally very happy with the result.

It's only the first season for the team but performance seems to have fluctuated all season. Do you feel you now understand the strengths and weaknesses of this car, enough to establish a good baseline for next year's car, for example?
RG: I think we started very well and then we had some issues, very different every time, that didn't allow us to score points. I think Baku and Canada we did have the chance to score points but once we had debris in the radiator and the other time we lost the front wing. That cost us a shot at good results. I think we could have been a bit more consistent but it's a brand new team, first year and things like that you expect that to happen. Hopefully now things are a bit more settled and we can try to score points as much as possible.

Pascal, turning to you, your first Formula One points last time and the first for Manor under that name as well. It was based on getting the tyres into the right operating window, which has been a bit of a struggle for you and the team this year. Do you think you have learned the magic formula now?
Pascal Wehrlein: I don't think so. I think the new surface in Austria helped us a lot. It was quicker and so we put more energy into the tyres and it helped us a lot. We were in the working window for qualifying and for the race and we could extend the run in the race. In qualifying, on the first lap the tyres were there and I could do a very good lap with P12 in Q2 and that's it.

You're coming from a track that you knew very well from your previous racing experience to one here at Silverstone that you have never raced on I believe. What are you looking forward to about Silverstone, what's exciting you?
PW: I think there are many nice corners, like... I don't really know the names, but it's Copse of Hops...

RG: Maggotts, Becketts, Chapel...

PW: A bit strange names but still the corners are really nice, really high-speed corners. I like that challenge, basically. With the Manor car it won't be easy because we are struggling a bit with downforce. In general, I am really looking forward to drive this track tomorrow. I'm always looking forward to new tracks.

Thanks. Turning to Valtteri Bottas, a podium finisher here a couple of years ago. Of course you know all the corners, you've been through them many times in the past, one of your favourite tracks I believe. It's been a good track for Williams over the past couple of years. This year do you arrive here feeling optimistic you'll be able to compete on that same level again, because at other circuits this year it seems to have been a bit more of a struggle for you?
Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, definitely. It's really cool to be in Silverstone, one of my favourite tracks. It's a home grand prix for Williams so it's always great. There is a very special atmosphere racing around these high-speed corners. Of course we have high expectations, but we will need to wait and see how the practice goes, because there have been some circuits where it's been very close... I mean, just a few races ago we had high expectations but we couldn't execute that. We just need to do everything we can in the practice, find a good set-up with the car and try to get the tyres to work perfectly. That's been the main issue in Baku and Austria. So yeah, just waiting for quali and race and hopefully we can be high up there.

Now, I think that I'm right in saying that you've had the opportunity to drive some of the great Williams F1 cars from the past around Silverstone in your time in with the team. Tell us about how that felt, any highlights, what the experience was like?
VB: Yeah, I've driven Keke Rosberg's wining car from '82 and Damon Hill's car from the ‘90s. Yeah, it's been really cool trying out those cars on the same track that I'm driving in nowadays Formula One. Of course they are very different. Completely different behaviour. The technology has gone so much forward nowadays. But I have to say that with the cars we have now it's a real enjoyment driving here in these corners, so I wouldn't change that.

Turning to Jolyon, first British Grand Prix as a Formula One driver. Some 135,000 people are expected here on race day. Everything has built up to this I guess, so what does this weekend mean to you?
Jolyon Palmer: Well, it's huge. My first British Grand Prix, a race I've been looking forward to since the start of the year really. So a track I know really, really well, I've been racing here for a long time. And I love the track as well. The layout is awesome, lot of fast corners. You need a lot of commitment but I really enjoy it. And then the crowd, which is every year fantastic here. Been coming here myself for many years and now to be racing Formula One here is going to be pretty special. So I'm looking forward to it.

Now you out-raced Magnussen in Austria, but you haven't managed to get into Q2 for a while, in fact I think it's the first race of the season. So is qualifying the clear for you at the moment?
JP: Yeah, 100% really. For us we have been quite close - Montreal I was only 15,000ths off Romain to get to Q2. It was really close. Austria as well we were OK but then we had a red flag and we struggled to get the last set of tyres on. I think we're not far away and hopefully this weekend we can find the last bit. I think the track should suit us more than the last few. And then once you're in Q2, you're starting a few places higher, you've got the pace to start a few places higher and you have more chance of scoring points. I mean they are the two aims: to get into Q2 and then score some points.

Turning to Lewis, defending world champion of course, a three-time British Grand Prix winner. Just mention to Jolyon there, 135,000 people expected here on race day, so a lot of expectation, but lets' talk about the championship. Twelve races to go, 11 points behind your team-mate, nearest rival challenger is 50 behind. Do you see this now as a two-horse race and how excited are you about it?
Lewis Hamilton: I don't think it's a two-horse race. I should take a page out of your book [Jenson], good afternoon everyone. No, I mean, it's the same as it's been since the beginning. It's still a fight. I think Ferrari are still there. Sebastian has had a couple of unfortunate races but they are still a force to be aware of. Every time I look up the cameras go... watch this!

JB: We need some silent shutters, can we do that?

LH: We do, we do. It's definitely a nicer position to be in. I've definitely seen worse days and worse times, obviously I was 43 points behind at one point. It's still behind but it's not impossible to come back.

Mercedes bosses met with you and Nico and the team's issued a statement in the last couple of hours saying "in the last five races there have been three incidents that have cost us over 50 points in the championship. We have therefore strengthened our rules of engagement to include much greater deterrents to contact between the cars. With these in place we will our drivers to manage the situation. Their destiny is in their own hands." Now clearly, last time out in Austria, the stewards found that the collision was your team-mate's fault but what's your comment on the statement today and how will it affect the battle going forward?
LH: In all honesty, I think our destiny has always been in our hands, so it doesn't realty change anything. We are still able to race, no team rules or team orders or whatever it's called, which I think is great for the fans, so I think everyone should be excited.

And you're both completely clear on what it all means and what these "much greater deterrents" are?
LH: Yeah.

Are they scary deterrents?
LH: I should say yes.

You should?
LH: I guess I should say yes.

Questions From The Floor

(Dan Knutson - Speedsport Magazine) Two questions for Valtteri. Has the team discovered what went wrong in the last race and going into the second half of the season is Red Bull still a target or are you looking over your shoulder at Force India?
VB: First of all with Austria, it was a really disappointing race for us. Like Pascal and Jenson said they could really use the conditions to their benefit with the tyres and the temperature and the new asphalt but for us it was completely the opposite, so we really struggled massively. I think there are multiple factors. I'm still yet today to have a better look with the engineers about it. I can say we don't 100% understand our performance yet. We have some kind of ideas but we are still analysing everything. But the good thing is at least we now to a more normal type of tarmac, not new at least, so hopefully it works out better. With the Red Bull, definitely they are strong and they are getting stronger all the time. But we also have some updates lined up. I am trying out the new front wing that Felipe tried out in Austria. I think we both have and also some other updates lined up for the next few races. With that in mind then if we can get better results than Austria and if we start to understand things better and really use those tracks that are good for us, getting string points for our cars, then it is still possible. I think it is a good target for us to try to put pressure on them, try to beat them in the races and if we can't make it then at least we should finish ahead of Force India.

(Sean McGreevy - CSMA) Question for Lewis, you, Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell have all won three races, British Grands Prix at this circuit. If you win on Sunday you'll be the most successful British driver at Silverstone. Have you thought about that and what would it mean to you if you won?
LH: Is that true? Nigel has four. [one at Brands Hatch] Ah, I see. No pressure then! I didn't know that. Ask me if I get there. It doesn't change anything into the weekend. As Jenson said, it's a great thing to be able to arrive here and have the incredible support we have. We've definitely got the best following of fans here and the Brits turn out regardless of what the weather is, they turn out in their thousands and it's just a very proud experience being here and being able to represent all the Brits. I'm still of the mind that... I remember being here when I wasn't even in Formula One and one day dreaming of driving Formula One, so it's just crazy to think I've had those wins here and I hope that I can continue to, along with the drivers here, raise the flag proudly.

(Peter Windsor - F1 Racing) Along the same lines Lewis, as time has gone on, this race has grown bigger and bigger for you and for the British sporting public and I wonder if there is a point where you have to be very disciplined about it not affecting your weekend performance and how you approach the weekend to find that balance between what you normally have to do and this massive audience which you find yourself facing?
LH: Honestly, I personally draw a lot of energy from the fans. There's races where you have a few and races where you have a lot. You come to Silverstone and that's when the energy is in abundance. I just absorb that. Seeing people that have saved up there money to come and spend their money here and put all of their energy towards you getting across the finish line first, that's... pretty much impossible to describe how amazing that feels. And when there's so many of them, all drivers will talk about it giving you that extra tenth or two on the weekend and I generally find that is the case. So the more and more there is, hopefully there's more time in it. Don't know if that's the case, I hope so! I'd like to believe so.

(Andrew Benson - BBC Sport) Has Toto given you any guidelines about how you can race with Nico, side-by-side now? For example, could you do what you did in Suzuka or Austin last year under whatever new guidelines there might be?
LH: Unfortunately Andrew, everything that's been said is private and confidential so I'm not allowed to... it's a good question. We're still able to race, and obviously in those races the stewards deemed me racing, so we... I... will still race like that.

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