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United States GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
19/10/2018

Today's press conference with Maurizio Arrivabene, Zak Brown, Gene Haas and Claire Williams.

Maurizio, please can we start with you? After Japan you said that Ferrari needs to challenge the impossible in terms of the title race. Is an unpredictable one like this one, with this weather, an opportunity to hit back?
Maurizio Arrivabene: You mean with the weather? I suppose. If you have a good car, the weather conditions, they are no influencing the performance of the car. With the sun, with the rain, you must always be into the situation where you are leading. So for us the rain is not really a factor that is going to determine the result. Of course it's going to mix it up a bit more but it's not the main concern.

Yesterday, in the press conference, Lewis sat where you are sitting now and reiterated his support for Sebastian, saying he had been perhaps unfairly criticised at times this season. What is your opinion of that?
MA: My opinion is that Lewis and Sebastian started in 2007 together, they are professional drivers and colleagues. I don't want to get into the conversation in between the two drivers. It's normal that being a Formula 1 professional that they are supporting each other, despite what they do at the track. In the track they fight like hell and out of the track they are colleagues and they are supporting each other. Having said so, you mention criticism. For sure the criticism to Sebastian they are not coming from the team, because I have said many, many times, we are winning and losing together. It's not new news, but I would like reiterate that we win and we lose together - end.

Thank you Maurizio. Claire, you recently announced George Russell as one of your race drivers for next season. Just what will George bring to Williams and why did you sign him?
Claire Williams: Yes, so we announced George last week and we're very excited to do so. I think everybody regards George as an exciting talent. We have a few new rookies coming into the sport next year, which obviously is a great thing for the teams and for the fans. I think George's racing pedigree really speaks for itself. He's won the F4 championship, the GP3 championship and hopefully later this season he'll win the F2 championship in Abu Dhabi. So I think his on-track prowess speaks for itself, but overall George, as a person, he's a very impressive individual. He's got a great personality. He really is truly determined. He knew exactly what he wanted going into 2019 and he's got it, and we're really excited to start working with him.

George will be one of the drivers, but what about your second seat? Is there any news, and who is on your shortlist?
CW: No, unfortunately we haven't made that decision yet, we're taking our time with it. We're not in any mad rush. We have a few drivers on the list; clearly I wouldn't confirm who they are. But we are excited about that decision too, we have some exciting prospects that we are evaluating now. We've got a number of considerations to factor into that decision and we'll make an announcement in due course; I'm hoping by the end of the season.

Thank you very much. Zak, speaking of announcements, yesterday you announced that Coca-Cola will partner with McLaren until the end of this season. Just what are you hopes for that partnership?
Zak Brown: We're very excited to have Coca-Cola. They are one of the world's most famous brands. I think they are a great entry into the sport. They will help bring a younger audience and great for McLaren. We're going to be activating with them in the remaining markets and hopefully it will be a successful partnership that will go on into the future.

Something else that McLaren has being doing a lot of this season is restructuring behind the scenes. You've made some big technical changes. Are all of those changes complete? Is everyone in position that would like in position before 2019?
ZB: I'm very happy with the progress and the changes that we have made. I wouldn't say it was complete. I think a Formula 1 is always reviewing and modifying on almost a race-by-race basis - not necessarily the team in the same way you would a race car - so we are where we wanted to be as far as who we've brought in and who we've promoted and excited for our future and hard at work on next year's car, while trying to get the most out of this one here for the last few races.

Thank you. Gene, I think this is the first time we've had you in the press conference this season, so if we could just look back over the year, how do you reflect on Haas' third season in F1 and has it exceeded expectations?
Gene Haas: Well, this season I think we are stable. I think we're more stable than we've been in the past. The faces are becoming familiar and I think that lends itself to communication, better results. Unfortunately we haven't had the results that we should have but the potential is there. I feel good about that. The partnerships we have are important but it's becoming a little bit more transparent as to what our responsibilities are and what we have to do and the learning process has gone well. Unfortunately, we just haven't gotten the results we should have had, even though we're fifth in the championship. That by itself looks good. It kind of reflects on how much luck has do with it among all the teams when they are racing. It seems that especially in the mid-pack, who makes the least amount of mistakes is the one that comes out ahead.

You mention being fifth in the championship, but fourth place does look like a realistic proposition over these last four rounds. If you were to achieve that, how do you then go about bridging the gap to the top three teams?
GH: Well, I kind of feel like we're not really racing in Formula 1, we're racing in Formula 1.5, so if we were to finish fourth then that would be a win in our series.

Questions From The Floor

(Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines, Racefans.net) Zak, you're American, we're in America and the big race in America is Indianapolis and McLaren would like to do Indianapolis and the Indycar series with Fernando. Any progress?
ZB: For the Indycar series, we've taken the decision to not compete on a full-time basis in 2019. We're simply not ready yet and very focused on Formula 1. So we won't be doing that in 2019. We do have a desire to do it, as I've mentioned before, in the near future. As far as the Indy 500 is concerned, it's something that remains of interest to us. That will be a decision that ultimately we take in the off-season. I think it's something that Fernando would like to do as well, but right now we're still focused on Formula 1 and until we get a little bit of fresh air we'll remain focused on that.

(Massimo Lopes Pegna - La Gazzetta dello Sport) For Mr Arrivabene. You always of course race to win. Now from Sunday to the last… the next three grands prix, you are kind of forced to win in order to keep alive the hope of winning the championship. In which way would change your, if any way, strategy or how you race these grands prix.
MA: It's not a question of strategy. The question is to find the right balance in a car that in the last two to three races was not easy to manage - especially in relation to the slow-speed corners. I know that the numbers are all against us in terms of the Constructors' and Drivers' Championships, but our job is to go there, to go to the track, without giving up. We have done analysis in Maranello about the issue that we need to sort to be competitive in the next few races, including this one. We have most probably a certain answer and we will see in the next few days if instead of being a simple answer they are a solution.

(Scott Mitchell - Autosport) For Gene, Claire and Zak: a little earlier this season, over the summer, one of your midfield rivals, Force India, went through its process of falling into administration and then being rescued. When that happened there was obviously the slightly confusing situation about prize money - what they would and would not be eligible for. I just wanted to know, do you have a resolution on that. Is it a satisfactory resolution and if not what are you hoping will be the outcome from that?
GH: I think from the standpoint of being a participant in Formula 1, we're just looking for an even enforcement of the rules. Like the stewards in a race they have be non-judgmental and they have to enforce the rules in front of them and every team expects those to be evenly enforced, and our argument with Force India is: is it a new team or a continuation of an existing team, and that's really where the stumbling block is. We went through the process of becoming a new team. We abided by the rules. The big one is the two-out-of-three-year rule and our argument is that if we had to go through that process we feel that with Racing Point if it's a new team then it really should have to go through the same process we went through. So the question for FOM is: is it a new team or the continuation of an existing team. We think it's pretty obvious to us it's a new team and therefore should have the rules applied as per the Concorde Agreement.

Claire, Williams' position on this?
CW: Williams has signed the waiver that everybody knows about that would see Force India receive their prize money payments. We're happy with that. I think from our perspective, the team is operating as it did prior to Lawrence buying it, acquiring it, and so we don't necessarily consider it to be a new team, as such. I believe, as Gene just said, there are still some issues that need to be ironed our behind the scenes with FOM and the FIA. We'll wait to see what happens.

And Zak, your comments?
ZB: I agree with what Gene has said. Take a step back: obviously very happy that a Formula 1 team continues in business, that's good for the sport, but what it did highlight were some of the governance issues and inconsistencies in the sport that need to be tackled moving forward. So I hope that what we do is we learn by this event and other events and not have things be chaotic, as it kind of was. There were different waivers flying around and it was in and it was out, it's a new team, it's not, and I think more than anything the sport needs to learn by some of these holes and get a better governance system in place.

Check out our Friday gallery from COTA, here.

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