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United States GP: Thursday Press Conference Part 2

NEWS STORY
19/10/2017

Let's start with Fernando Alonso. Two-time Formula One World Champion who's just announced a new deal with McLaren that I think will take you to 17 seasons in Formula One. Tell us your feelings, and also what remains for you to achieve here?

Fernando Alonso: Well, the feelings are great, obviously. It's a good day for me, announcing next year, I will be back here with McLaren and obviously happy and proud to continue this relationship. It has been three difficult seasons for us, we are not as competitive as we wanted and now I think it's time to change this situation and hopefully next year to be back in the positions that McLaren belongs and hopefully give something to our fans that have kept supporting us for the last three years. That will be the main thing for next year. As I've said, happy to arrive to this agreement at the end.

On that topic, obviously you're switching to the Renault engine for next year which has this season so far won two grands prix and had ten other podiums. Is that the kind of thing you have in mind from McLaren-Renault next season?
FA: We'll see. I think every years the projects are a little bit different. You never know what you can achieve with the new cars. Sometimes you go to the first winter test and have a nice surprise and are quicker than you expect; sometimes you have bad surprises and you are a little bit slower and something is not according to plan. Let's see what we can do next year - but definitely very happy again to have a Renault engine on my car. I have a very strong relationship with Renault from many, many years now. I've been working with them since then, even on my karting school etcetera, so extremely proud to also drive for a Renault engine.

And a final comment on the colour of your cap, all part of the Susan Komen initiative this weekend.
FA: Yes. Obviously I think the whole of Formula One is given big support to all the women that are fighting constantly with breast cancer. I think we want to pass the message that they are not alone, they have a lot of support. With all the necessary things and controls they can make in advance, I think there are many, many hopes and they are not alone.

Romain Grosjean, on home soil - kind of - with Haas, off the back of a double-points finish in Japan that moved you up in the Constructors' Championship as well, what's the mood like in the team at the moment, going into this weekend.
Romain Grosjean: The mood is pretty good. It has been since the first day, to be fair, even through the highs and lows. It was really good to have a double-points finish in Japan. Japan and Monaco, which are two very difficult tracks. So, it shows the team is doing great progress. We're coming here of course very motivated as always. Pretty special grand prix because it's the home race for the team. We just need to keep our feet on the ground and start from zero every weekend and build up from there but you know it's only the second year of the team and we are fighting with Renault, Toro Rosso, Williams in the Constructors' Championship - and they are teams that have been here for a very long time, so you can be very proud of that. We know where are our strengths, we know our weakness and we are working on that for the future - but I think there is a lot of potential in the team to move up the ranks.

On that subject, Fernando's planning on moving up the grid next year, Nico's definitely planning on moving up the grid next year. How are Haas and yourself going to move up the grid in the face of that competition?
RG: Well who isn't? That's the real question! For sure McLaren is going to be a competitive team next year. We have less experience than others. I think that year was a really good test for us and knowing that we were coming with a change of regulation, to see what we could do. We've done pretty well. I'm thinking that, I'm hoping that next year we go up another level, which everyone obviously does - but I think, as I say, we've got more potential to unlock and we're going to try to do that. We know where we've been good, we know where we haven't been good and obviously now the key is to work on where we've been weak.

Nico, a new teammate in Carlos this weekend and going forward. Do you expect him to give you a hard time this weekend in Austin, or indeed in the last four races or is that more likely to come next season?
Nico Hulkenberg: No, definitely a harder time probably than so far this year. Obviously he's got a few challenges on his plate, changing team at the back end of the season is not the easiest situation. There are a lot of new things that he has to get used to: car, team, people but I'm sure he will be on a decent level straight away. I look forward to working alongside him. Obviously four important and intense races now ahead of us so yeah, we need to focus and do a good job.

Do you know him much already?
NH: I've known him obviously from this year and last year, the time that he's been in Formula One but probably get to know him a lot more in the next couple of weeks.

Obviously the Renault's been quite an interesting story, the way it's developed this year; pretty much since Silverstone it seems to me you've generally been the fourth fastest car in qualifying at most venues; where has that come from?
NH: Well, it's come from hard work, good development, everybody back at the factory has done a good job during these last couple of months and that's it pretty much. We've brought updates for the car and transformed the car into a much better performing car on all sorts of different tracks so we're in a good position. As we say, we still obviously have quite a bit to do this year. We want to not finish where we are now, in terms of team championship position, so it's important for us to do a good job in the last four races.

So based on the growth that you've seen this last few months, obviously you think you're going to be able to race Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull in 2018? Is that too much to expect?
NH: I think that's asking a bit much if you see the gap and the advantages they have at the moment. It's a pretty difficult task to close that gap. I think if we can halve that gap, we've already done a very good job. It's not that they're not doing a fantastic job so TBC but obviously we will make up as much as we can.

Kevin, four points finishes in 2017 with a best of seventh, how would you sum up the season so far in terms of your own satisfaction?
Kevin Magnussen: I think it's been an up-and-down season with a lot of potential and perhaps also some missed potential at times this year but we've still had some good races and the potential seems to be good in the car. When we're quick, we're very quick and competitive but our lows have perhaps been a bit too low. That's something to work on for next year, consistency, and getting the car more regularly at its best. I think we can move towards that; whether we can be constantly fourth best team, I don't think so. It's not realistic at least but we will do what we can and see.

Now you and Romain are now noticeably more close together more often, starting to become a bit of a Force India scenario. How much are you enjoying that?
KM: Well, we haven't crashed into each other this year so it's not like that but we're enjoying it and it's good that we're both getting the most out of the car and just shows that we're fighting hard and doing our best.

Questions From The Floor

(Chris Medland - Racer) Fernando, I believe it's a one year contract extension you've signed; is that correct and if so what's the thinking? Are you looking beyond next year, do you want options open?
FA: We don't talk too much about the contracts, the inside but no, it's not one year.

(Andrew Benson - BBC Sport) Fernando, just following that up, I'm told it's a multi-year contract but presumably that's got options in it. Do you then foresee potentially at McLaren if things go well next year and then maybe into the future Le Mans, Indy 500? Are these things that you're talking about with McLaren as well?
FA: We'll see, I think it's just talking too much ahead. We have enough to do for next year, to put McLaren again at the top of the grid and that's the first priority right now. I think on my personal side there are no other priorities than Formula One at the moment but with a door open for different series and different goals that I always believed that you need to win in other series if you want to be a more complete driver, a better driver, because motorsport is not only Formula One. Even if it's still the priority, we will see what the future brings.

(Ysef Harding - Xiro Xone News) Romain, you and your wife recently worked on a cookbook together, Cuisine and Confidences. Can you tell us a little bit about the book and what went into it, the journey that you take because it covers two things you love aside from Formula One, cooking and your family?
RG: Yeah, it's been great fun. It was just through meeting people and we met a guy called Patrick Rougereau and he's been voted best culinary photographer in the world last year and he actually made my plate look pretty nice which it wasn't always, so it was a good job. And it was basically... it was basically just a way to share my passion for cooking and every recipe has a story behind it for which my wife writes the text, so it's all cooking that we do back home, either with the kids, with friends and so on. It was just a great thing to do and I thought it could be fun to see that a Formula One driver can actually do something a bit different than an autobiography and having a cookbook that can give a bit of an inside of our lives through recipes.

Do any of the other drivers have a passion for cooking? Nico, do you enjoy cooking?
NH: No.

FA: No

KM: Just eating.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Austin, here.

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