Today's press conference with Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.
Lewis, we're going to start with you. You've been hugely successful here in the past and it looks like they've had you busy here as well this week, so just talk us through what you've been up to in New York this week?
Lewis Hamilton: It's just been the normal promotion stuff. I was there with IWC and with the team at the NASDAQ conference that we had... and then a bunch of other TV stuff I just did.
Well, America seems to be a place you have quite an affinity with, and you've won the last four races here, as well as the Drivers' title in 2015. Does it feel like it's all coming together again for a repeat this weekend?
LH: Not particularly, no. It just feels like another race weekend we have, and we want to win, so it's a simple goal for us, we just arrive to try and do the same thing. The weather is up and down and our goal is really just to perform as we have in previous races, we're not thinking about it in any other way.
Thank you. Fernando, you've got a huge following here in America after your Indycar exploits, but how special will this final US race in Formula 1 be for you this weekend?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it's always special racing here, with all the fans. Hopefully we'll have a good show on the weekend. As Lewis said, the weather is a bit up and down on Friday and Saturday especially, hopefully that will mix things a little bit and we'll see a good race on Sunday. In our case I think we different targets, to try to score points after two races out of the points. It's going to be challenging but we'll try.
You've spent a fair bit of time in America this year. Will you be spending even more time here next year? Can you tell us anything about your 2019 plans?
FA: Yeah, I don't have 21 races in F1 to travel around to, so with more free time I will come to the States... for a holiday. A little bit more.
How about from a racing perspective?
FA: Let's see. As I said many times, the Indy 500 is still very attractive, as it was last year, and after winning Le Mans this year, it's even more attractive to try to achieve it in the short term. Still working on plans for next year and as soon as they are finalised you will know.
Daniel, you also seem to really enjoy it over here. We've seen you've been at a Longhorns game this weekend. Is this one of your favourite events of the season?
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, it is. I love it. I don't know, I've always enjoyed coming here. The football was a really cool experience. It's amazing how many people go to a college game, how the capacity is that alone. It's cool to experience new things and yeah, I've had a good week!
Well, this season you've had two race victories but no podiums alongside that. Is it realistic to expect you to change that record here this weekend.
DR: Yeah, I think so. I think we'll have a decent car around here. It's weird, yeah I know, that I haven't had any actual podiums. So yeah, we'll try to make it happen. Last year I was going pretty strong in the race but then we had to stop with some mechanicals. It's definitely a fun track to race on. I enjoy Austin alone, but the circuit as well is really good for racing. You can overtake and it's pretty unique, so I'm happy if it's kind of wet for Friday and Saturday but I kind of feel if the race is dry Sunday it will still be pretty exciting.
Thank you. Romain, we've talked about the affinity these guys have with America, but it's a home race for Haas, and you've got just four races left to try to overhaul Renault in the Constructors' Championship. So us there a lot of pressure on this weekend?
Romain Grosjean: I think the pressure is always on, to be fair. Different levels, obviously for the top guys to win the championship, and for us to go and try to get Renault in the Constructors'. It's a great weekend, it's going to be very busy, a lot of marketing commitments, but I think it's a good that we're here, racing here for an American team and coming this year with a competitive car compared to the first two years us great.
If I could just ask you about your own form. You had a tough start to the season, but then I think you scored 31 points in the last nine races. Just how did you go about turning that around?
RG: Thirty-nine. I got eight stolen in Monza.
DR: He's not still bitter!
RG: No, I think everything is going great since Germany. It was a rough start to the season and things didn't go my way. A bit of bad luck and bit of mistakes and all together it makes like a snowball effect. At one point I managed to stop that and come back to where I wanted to be. I'm really enjoying driving the car. I think we've had some really good races and I'm looking forward to the four last ones and here especially.
Questions From The Floor
(Christian Menath - Motorsport-Magazin.com) Lewis, I know you're not looking at the championship all the time, but if we would do an overlay from last years championship to this year's championship it was pretty tight all season but then after the summer break the car and you personally, you really kicked off. Is this just a coincidence or is there anything - that you are understanding the tyres better, the team is understanding the car better? What is your explanation for that?
LH: Yeah, it's probably just a coincidence that it's exactly the same but we are improving the car the whole year long. We are improving our knowledge of the car and how to get the most out of it. If we knew what we knew in the second half we would do a lot better at the beginning. That's just how it is in the sport. That's how it always is. It's been the same since I started in 2007. I think it's probably the same for everyone. Not really much more else to say.
(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines, Racefans.net) For all of you, though Fernando I know this doesn't really affect you for next year. The 2019 regulations state that the drivers weighing under 80 kilos will be ballasted up to 80 kilos, that ballast to be carried within the sort of cockpit area. How do you feel about that? Is that correct or should drivers be allowed to take advantage of their physique, as they can in other sporting activities?
DR: I personally feel that they are just getting us prepared for more races in America.
DR: All of us will enjoy our food a little more! I'm not complaining about it. It's not like we're going to, let's say, take the piss, it's more just a lot of us now tend to starve ourselves on race weekends and even training we can't really do much strength training because we would just put on mass. I think it will just allow us to train harder, eat harder... Eat harder? Eat more. But it's not like we're going to have beer bellies or anything, we're just going to be stronger and I think that's only a good thing.
LH: I disagree. I think there are going to be some people with bigger bellies.
DR: Well, the small guys can afford to do everything!
Romain, your thoughts on the weight?
RG: I think it's a great thing. I've been the same as... Daniel and Lewis are quite tall. I think it hasn't been great to starve ourselves and not eat as want to, so a few kilos of margin is going to be great. It will be a challenge for the team, because getting to the minimum weight for the regulation with the 80 kilos for seat and driver together is going to be tricky, but on the other hand it's going to make our lives an awful lot better.
Lewis, any further thoughts?
LH: I think it's great. It's definitely going to open the doors up for people like Will Ferrell and all those who weigh a lot more to come in! It's always been something we've all worked hard to keep in shape and it has been something we've worked really hard at; to make sure we're not overweight. I guess we can eat more pancakes. I think we will prepare more and we can all be a little bit stronger next year. I guess for the people who are struggling to come under the weight; for example there are some of the taller drivers who struggle to be less than 80 kilos. I guess it doesn't really make much difference for them otherwise.
Fernando, you won't be racing here next year, but you have raced in other categories where weight balances are different. Do you think this is a good move for Formula 1?
FA: Yeah, I think it is. In Formula 1, I'm obviously not one of the tallest, so it's more a question for the tall guys and I think it's fair for everyone, so I think it's good. In other series, in WEC in particular, where the weight is free, that normally gives and advantage to the lighter and smaller guys, and probably that is unfair in a way, so I think Formula 1 is doing great on that.
DR: Ricky Bobby.
LH: Ricky Bobby.
DR: I caught it, it's alright.
LH: I noticed. No one else watched Talladega Nights. Ricky Bobby. No? Overweight NASCAR driver. NASCAR drivers can now come over to Formula 1, which is cool.
Check out our Thursday gallery from COTA, here.