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Mexico GP: Thursday Press Conference


Today's press conference with Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.

Sergio, it's your home race this weekend?
Sergio Perez: It's amazing. Since the first year we've had the Mexican Grand Prix it's been big. We've seen in other countries that sometimes it backs away, but it doesn't happen. Here the people, the media, everyone is so excited about this weekend. It's been great, you know. The amount of support that I've received during the weekend is amazing and I think, once again, we're going to have an amazing grand prix.

Q: You've finished in the points every year since the race returned. How confident are you of a repeat this weekend?
SP: That's the minimum target, you know, to score the points here, but I hope that this weekend I do my best result through them. I think we should be string. We should be fighting to be best of the rest. Renault was very strong last weekend but I think we should be there and hopefully we score a lot of points for the team.

Q: Pierre, if we could come to you please. Looking back at Austin last weekend, you ran some aerodynamic upgrades on the car, then took them off just before qualifying. Are you going to be using them here, what can you tell us about that?
Pierre Gasly: Yeah, in Austin it wasn't ideal with the weather conditions, so we a new package that we could not run until P3 and yeah, basically, we need more mileage, more running with this one to really understand how to use the package and extract the full potential, so we took it off before the qualifying. This weekend we are going to run it again. We've got only one part, so this time Brendan is going to get it on the car and hopefully we can learn a bit more about how to use it.

Q: Looking ahead to 2019, it's very clear what Red Bull Racing are going to get as far as you're concerned but what about Honda, especially in light of recent upgrades they have introduced?
PG: I think things look really promising. They are working really hard. We saw in Suzuka, we went to all the factories and you can see the dedication and commitment from the people. There is a big opportunity ahead of Honda. They're going to be in a relationship with Red Bull. They have been struggling in the last few years but next year we are going to be in a position to fight for the top positions. They really want to make the best out of this situation. I think the progress they've made over the last few weeks with that new spec is really encouraging and they are still working on next year's engine, trying to extract even more performance. For sure we need to give them time, for sure it's super difficult to catch up with Mercedes and Ferrari but slowly they are catching up and I'm really confident they will keep improving and I'm really excited to see what they can do ahead of next year.

Q: Thank you. Carlos, let's start by looking back at Austin last weekend. It was Renault's biggest single-race score of the season. Was that track specific or are you confident that you can repeat that this weekend here in Mexico?
Carlos Sainz: Let's say that after some three or four races the team decided to do a bit of a rethink on how we approach weekends and how we can maybe score some better results and Austin was a great example of a good team effort but at the same time a track that was suiting us better - a lot more low-speed corner that our car works well on; a bit less power sensitive, that obviously in qualifying we feel it, so a combination of hard work but also a track that was suiting us better made us score a very strong result, which we needed for that fourth place in the championship. I think Mexico is another great opportunity to score a double points finish. It's still less power sensitive; it's quite a lot of low-speed corners, so it could present some good opportunities, but we need to stay as focused and as determined as we were in Austin for sure.

Q: Let's throw it forward to 2019. How are you preparations with McLaren coming along? Have you had any contact, or does that not happen until January 1st?
CS: Of course there has been some contact. There has been some organisation of how to plan the winter, but nothing to do with performance or… engineering talking, let's put it like that. I think I'm fully committed to this project, to the Renault, until the end of the year - until, really, Sunday afternoon after Abu Dhabi - and I think my results in the second half of the season are proving it. We are scoring a lot of points, I think it's 17 points since Hungary, and finally my season is starting to come together. I'm very pleased, very happy with how things are going here and I really want to finish my season with Renault, my time with Renault, on a high, like we are doing now.

Q: Thank you Carlos. Max, I'd also like to look at Austin with you. Tremendous race by you; 18th to second. We saw you overtake more cars than any other race you've done. How do you reflect on last weekend? Was it one of the best races of your career?
Max Verstappen: It was definitely a good one but it's difficult to choose if it's going to be the best. I also don't want to really look at it like that. It's always important to try to score the most points as possible, especially when you start at the back. I think we didn't expect to really fight for the podium but looking at the year before as well, we were really competitive in the race and again it showed this time out as well. Doing the opposite strategy I think seemed to be working well and to be at the end of the race fighting for victory was very nice. And of course to hang on to second in the last few laps was challenging with the tyres I had, but also a lot of fun.

Q: Well you won this grand prix last year and the RB14 is clearly performing well. Of the three remaining races this season, do you think this is your best chance of another victory?
MV: This is definitely the best chance for us. We'll try to set up the car in the best way possible and we'll find out how we're going to perform. I don't think in qualifying we have a chance but in the race we anyway seem to be working a lot better, so I expect this to be better than Austin.

Q: Thank you Max. Kimi, thank you for waiting. Great to see you back on the top step of the podium last weekend in Austin. Can you just tell us with the benefit of hindsight how much you enjoyed that race and everything that came after - and did you send a cap home for Robin?
Kimi Raikkonen: No, it's for the wife but I'll bring it with me after this race. It was a great result obviously and a good race and we had to fight for it quite a bit, so I think it didn't come easy. But I think it's good for us and good for everybody. I think it was an exciting race. What else to say? We were happy. Hopefully this weekend we will be strong. The end result we'll see on Sunday, but we'll do our best.

Q: This has been your best season since rejoining Ferrari in 2014. It's also your last season with Ferrari, so how will you reflect on 2018?
KR: I don't know. Obviously we've gone through it and I don't see much point to look afterwards at what we did. It's not going to change anything and we'll see where we finish. It's not what we want in the end result, but we did our best and we'll finish maybe third, maybe fourth, maybe somewhere behind that. It's not ideal. But it could be worse.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Fernando Alonso - Motorlat) It's a question to everyone. How do you think about the relationship between the experience and the young? Because here we have this mix of drivers, with Kimi like the most experienced, and Pierre like the rookie. But all of you have an opinion and how is the age working for your growing in the results you have with your team. What are your thoughts about that?
Q: Well, Kimi, you recently turned 39 and you've just won a grand prix, so how is age helping you?

KR: I don't know if it's helping or harming but it seems to be working still OK. I guess a certain amount of experience helps, that's for sure. But I think in this sport it's not probably that necessary to have a massive amount, because you can do a lot of things on simulators. We are doing basically the same tracks. If it's 5 kilometres, or four, or whatever it is, we are all going to learn it. It's not like 10 million miles will help more than the shorter distances. In rally it helps a lot more, the experience, but I think for me it's helpful. I feel better, for sure, than when I started, in the first year. But I guess there is a certain points when it doesn't make such a big difference anymore.

Q: Max, you've achieved a lot at a very young age. How difficult was it for you when you first came into Formula 1?
MV: Well, for me, I think it's still the more experience I get, the faster I'll become, so I haven't stopped learning.

PG: I think, for sure, age is probably not that important - maturity is the main thing. For sure, the experience is useful. I'm only in my first complete season and I don't know how I'm going to be after five years, but I can feel already the difference now, compared to a year ago when I came in Malaysia for my first race, so you just get more confidence, you know how things work. Probably after four or five years things become a bit more automatic. I'll see that in the future.

Q: Checo?
SP: I think experience helps in how you can direct a team, how you can build it around you, how much progress you can make with your car, with the set-up. I think experience really helps and makes a difference. I think it's definitely a good bonus. As Kimi said as well, you get to a point where nothing really changes. Your speed and a bit of experience always helps as well.

And Carlos?
CS: Yeah, I agree with Checo there, that experience helps you a lot to get to know yourself, how to extract the maximum potential of yourself, within a team and within a car, within a set-up. With more experience, the faster you get, as Max said. But at the same time it gives me a lot of tranquility to see that a guy that is 39 years old can win in Formula 1. There's a lot of time ahead for many of us and seeing Kimi winning last weekend also showed that Formula 1 is one of those sports where you can be successful at a later age.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Mexico City, here.


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