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Abu Dhabi GP: Thursday Press Conference Part 1

NEWS STORY
23/11/2017

Lewis, four-time champion, amazing scenes at the factory when you went back there to celebrate your third title with Mercedes, clearly it was very emotional as well. What's made this season special?

Lewis Hamilton: I thin every single individual in the team. Their commitment has never wavered. They've been ruthless in how hard they worked throughout the year. Obviously I've been there five years, so to see the team grow, to see the individuals that I work with grow in their understanding and in their work ethic. This year being that we were fighting with Ferrari excited everyone and encouraged everyone to another level. To go to both factories and to see everyone... at HPP every single race that I've driven has been powered by an engine that they have produced, so it's been a great journey with them. And then to go to Brackley and see all the guys there. I arrived there and they were standing... I had to walk from the gate, which has never happened before, everyone was standing on the side of the road. It was just great to have that welcome and to be able to celebrate both championships with them.

OK, and Sebastian, your side, what's the mood at Maranello? Have you and Ferrari improved enough and learned enough during 2017 to believe that you can go one better and become world champions next year?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, I think if we can do a similar step for next year then... no, don't get me wrong, it's a joke and Germans don't joke so much, then it should be a walk in the park. I think what I want to say is that the step that we have done this year was incredible. The way the team has come out with a competitive car at the beginning, the way we have improved both chassis and engine, on all fronts I think it has been outstanding. We have been close for most of the year, not close enough when it mattered, but that's what happened. From that we made our conclusions, we learned our lessons. So I believe that those will help us next year. We are completely fired up. Obviously it was bitter but now I actually think it's a positive that we have a couple of races to approach, to look forward to and look forward to next year. So we'll see. Obviously everybody will be pushing very hard over the winter. I think we have the right, I think we proved that this year. We have what we need. It all starts again next year, so let's see.

And we will have a unique situation with two drivers going for a fifth world championship, so that's something to look forward to. For the two of you then, it's been a close duel between you for the world championship this year. Can you pick out one particular highlight of you duel this year. Lewis?
SV: Shall we start with Baku?

Yeah, let's start there.
SV: Break the ice. But he didn't do much. No, I don't think we need to touch on that again. I think it's been a good season, close... More wheel-to-wheel would be nice.

LH: There needs to be more races like Barcelona kind of thing I would say.

SV: That was a bit too straightforward for you to pass, but it always depends on what side you're looking from. But for sure when you're chasing down, that's really intense and really nice. I think Spa was a really intense race. I was trying to push him all race. I probably had sort of a chance but he was very clever defending, up the hill, up Eau Rouge. I think it's been a fun year. Obviously when you are racing that close, with hardly any mistakes, I think it's fair to say also that this year Lewis probably made less mistakes and in the end he was just the better man and he deserved to win.

Anything else to say on the subject?
LH: No, I agree with what he said, in the sense that it was great to have those clos battles. Spa was awesome. To be fighting a four-time world champion whom you respect, you expect nothing but the best from them and no mistakes, so when you have races like Spa where it's really down to one of you making the smallest mistake, and none of us did, I'm looking forward to many more of those races in the future.

Great, so do we all. Daniel, I'm sure you guy want to get in on the act as well. First of all, is that a Movember mo' you've got going on there?
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah.

How's it growing?
DR: It's going great. Why not?

Indeed. So, slow start for Red Bull and a strong finish once again. What are you doing behind the scenes to make sure that it starts strong and that you are right in the thick of the championship right from the get-go in Melbourne next year?
DR: On a personal level, just make sure that I fill in the blanks I guess. There's been some great races. Obviously I would love all 20 to be great and not all 20 have been. I think, yeah, for me, just to assess the year once it's all settled and then just try to understand what I could have improved. I'm sure there's on-track stuff but also off track. Obviously I give every year a good crack, but give next year a proper crack. I mean between us all we've got eight world titles, so it's pretty good! But, yeah, obviously we want nine. It's cool, I've been pretty pleased with the year. I've still go some improvements to make and I'm looking forward to extracting a bit more from myself.

OK, a final question to all three of you: it's been a year of significant changes, Formula 1 has had a different approach in many areas this season, especially in digital and social. How do you feel things have gone and what have you appreciated and what remains to be done?
LH: I think it's been a positive. I think it's been great to be able to drive and push the cars as we have. I think there is still work to be done in lots of different areas. But I think in general, Formula 1 has taken a good step forward, obviously with Liberty coming in. I think they done an exceptional job this year. Being that they have very little experience in Formula 1 I think they have learned a lot and helped move the sport forwards already. So I'm excited to see what they continue to do moving forwards. I'm hoping that there are some changes put in place over the next years with the decision-making process with how they decide what they do with the cars. Obviously it's a big power struggle with Ferrari and Mercedes, and then those that have perhaps even less say, though it shouldn't be like that. So I hope there are some improvements there. On the racing side, I hope moving forwards, overtaking gets easier. Not easier, but being able to follow each other is really what the sport needs. The more overtaking the more fun it is for people to watch. That's what I'm hoping for, but this year has been a positive year and I hope that next year I'm hoping that all three of our teams, and McLaren as well, can be in the mix. I think that would make the championship way more fun that it has been this year.

SV: Well, from a driver's seat the cars are much more fun to drive again, you can push a lot harder, which is the way I think Lewis and myself we got to know Formula 1 when we joined, more probably for Lewis than me, because I was more on the sidelines at that time. That's great, that's what we drivers want. It's great to see that the cars for faster. They're never fast enough, because we always complain. I think that's been great and made the racing better, the races for us more enjoyable. Whether that ends up in a better show and better TV, it depends on the race. But I think on that, wishes for next year is that everybody calms down. Some races are boring, so what? I don't see the problem in that. I don't think we need another record, another record every race, to have more overtaking and more overtaking. It's true that overtaking sometimes, especially if you're behind and you're fast and you can't get past for those reasons, it annoys you. But then again if you make the move there is a massive reward inside the car, sometimes out the car. What I want to say is that overtaking should be an achievement and not handed to you. So there's a difficult balance but as I said, sometimes just relax and calm down and accept a boring race or a boring two races in a row and then there will be another great race after that and another one. So there are some things we can't foresee even if it's a time when we want to control everything, some things are good if they are not in our control.

DR: There have been pros and cons in my opinion. Probably still more pros. Obviously being able to go faster is always nice but it does come at a price when following and that. Some tracks have been kind of transparent compared to last year, you've still been able to race hard and follow close but some tracks you need a pretty big speed advantage to get close or to make a move. I think Seb's right in some ways, that's just the way it is and that's the way some tracks are laid out. I think the wider cars and all that look great and they've given us more downforce and grip but when they take up more space on the track you have less clean air to try to find so it does make following harder so that one is good and bad. The off-track stuff has been pretty cool. It's been interesting. It's certainly opened up a lot of little things. The paddock is one area where there has been room for that to be more exciting for fans. People in the paddock, to have a common area to go to, to get a bit more of an atmosphere in there, whether it's through some music or they've set up the bar. Yeah, they're experimenting and it's going in the right direction so it's been cool to be a part of it.

Questions From The Floor

(Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Agencia Efe) The question is for Seb and Lewis. Your next logical step would be to match Juan Manuel Fangio's five titles. What does the name Juan Manuel Fangio say to you?
SV: Certainly we will never match him in how successful he had been in such a short time and so little races. Obviously back then it was different. Racing was different. I had the pleasure to chat with Stirling, Stirling Moss, and if you ask him about Juan Manuel Fangio then I think you get a much better answer because he knew him and because he knew his skills in a car. I think as a racing driver if you come to a point where you say that... because in a way you always tend to think you are the best, otherwise there's not much point I guess, but if you reach a point where you say 'that guy was just better than me' it says a lot and if you look at Stirling's record I think it has been incredible, not just in Formula 1 but in all the other categories as well. So he must have been really, really special. And as I said, to have achieved what he did achieve in that time, where a lot of things needed to come together, the cars were not as reliable and all of that, still he managed to be that successful, I think he's probably the best we've ever had in terms of putting it together, in terms of skill, in terms of how brave they were at the time. I think racing at its core remained the same until today but the racing itself has changed massively since the '50s to today.

LH: I agree with Seb. Naturally, he's just a leading icon in motorsport. To have achieved what he achieved in the time, when danger was really at its worst. I think he's the driver that I think everyone admires most, perhaps being that it was in the most dangerous period of time in motorsport. I think to even be as close as we are, I feel very honoured to be this close to such a great sporting icon. If anything I actually feel like he's under... I think he should be celebrated more for his success. It's not really mentioned a huge amount. Often you hear about Ayrton and Prost but I feel he's the godfather of the sport in terms of the drivers.

(Flavio Vanetti - Corriere Della Sera) To Sebastian: Ferrari proved to be closer to Mercedes this season. Now you need the final step. Do you think it will be a tough one or not?
SV: Yeah, massively tough. The level is very high. Mercedes has been very competitive the last couple of years and again this year, despite a regulation change that obviously helped us to get a bit closer. But for next year it's the same story - you need to make that step. That final step you're talking about is always the hardest. But that's why we're here. That's the name of the game. As I said, the team is ready. The people in Maranello are already fired up. I think we have some good projects in the pipeline. Some will take time, some will come soon, but that's the normal fight.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Yas Island, here.

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