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Abu Dhabi GP: Thursday Press Conference Pt 1

NEWS STORY
22/11/2018

Part 1 of today's press conference with Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell.

Fernando, it's you final grand prix, can you describe your emotions coming into the weekend, please?
Fernando Alonso: So far I think it's a normal weekend. I think on Sunday it's going to be different, when it gets a little bit more emotions. But right now, I landed like 10 hours ago from Japan. I've been racing last weekend in Shanghai and I'm not probably into the mood yet of this final race. It feels OK right now. As I said, it's going to be special, emotional, and hopefully a good one.

Q: Lewis, on the subject of this being Fernando's final grand prix. You've raced alongside him and against him. What kind of a rival has he been for you?
Lewis Hamilton: He's been OK. We've had good times and bad times. I don't really know what else to say. We've grown... he was obviously here before I was and achieved incredible things before I got here and also partly why I was here. It's been a privilege to be in an era where he was racing.

Q: Will you miss him?
LH: Will I miss him? Yeah, I think the sport will miss him.

Q: Lando, you are going to be driving for McLaren in 2019 and you've been working with Fernando this year. What has he taught you?
Lando Norris: He's taught me quite a few things. One of the biggest things was working with him in Daytona, because I got to see a different side of him, I guess, working together. It's not just some things. There are quite a few; a lot of stuff I can take through to my first year in Formula 1. And already, things I've taken into practice, into FP1s. There have been a lot of things I've been able to learn. We've had some good times. We get along really well and hopefully can continue in the future.

Q: And George, just a question for you about Fernando. You haven't worked with him but was he a driver you followed closely when you were growing up?
George Russell: Yeah, 100%. Growing up as a young karter you always look towards Formula 1 and Fernando was in his prime at that time and always fighting for championships, so as Lewis said, the sport is going to miss him, but he is a fantastic driver.

Q: Fernando, you've said you're not in the mood for reflections but what do you feel is your legacy?
FA: I don't know really. I think it's difficult to say in the first person. I think I've been trying to do my best all the time here, fighting against anything or circumstance that may put some stress or put other people down. I was trying always to give my best and somehow working with the kids and the karting school, the museum, trying to do a lot of things with the fans and the young generation, trying to help them, if I can, with the knowledge I've had all these years and with facilities or something that I probably didn't have at my time and if they have the dreams and the talent, try to help them.

Q: Thank you Fernando, good luck this weekend. Lewis, you've been a five-time champion for nigh on four weeks now. In terms of the championships you've won, where does 2018 rank?
LH: I don't know, hopefully somewhere around the top. I've not really thought about it too much, to be honest. I've been focusing on trying to finish off the season strong. But it does feel... you know me, I don't have a great memory, but it does feel like one of the best years that I can remember, competition-wise and competitive-wise, in terms of performances.

Q: Thank you, good luck for the weekend ahead. Lando, coming back to you. As we've already said, a McLaren driver in 2019. Can you just paint a little picture for us about the preparations that are going to go on between now and Melbourne in March?
LN: A lot! I think I've got a lot for myself to look forward. A lot of things that I haven't done yet to prepare for that first race... the first test of course. Things I'm sure the team will be able to help me through, and guide me in many ways. So I look forward to it. I think there are a lot of things for me to be working on, which I'm very excited about. I'm sure I'm going to be busy. It's not going to be the easiest of winters. But whatever I can do to prepare myself for Australia, the first race... I've never been to Australia yet, so there are a lot of things for myself to do.

Q: And a lot of jetlag. Thank you Lando. George, coming to you, of course you're going to be racing for Williams next year but you've got a championship to win first this weekend, the Formula 2 championship. You've got a big lead; just tell us about your approach coming into the weekend.
GR: I don't think my approach is going to change, to be honest. We've had a fantastic season, so there is no real reason to change the approach. Like you said, we have a very healthy margin, but anything can still happen and I think we've seen that throughout the whole season.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (David Tremayne - The Independent, Grand Prix Plus) Fernando, can you share some of you best memories from your time in Formula 1 with us.
FA: Yeah, the season with Lewis, 2007. I don't know, I think more than races or memories or victories, the best thing I have from the F1 time is the people that I worked with, the people that I shared half of my life with. I'm 37 and I raced here 18 years, it's half of my life with a lot of talented engineers, designers, mechanics, you guys, the media, everyone. We shared a lot of days over the seasons and I think that's the best thing that I will always remember about Formula 1. How you approached this kind of races, the philosophy behind a grand prix, the preparation, and the discipline in all areas of the team. Now, racing in other disciplines, other series, you realise that Formula 1 is a step higher and it's just trying to find perfection in everything, every weekend, every two weeks, all around the world. This was probably the best memories I will get from here.

Q: (David Tremayne - The Independent, Grand Prix Plus) Is there one race where you found that ultimate perfection that stands out for you?
FA: A few of them I think they were probably a little bit higher than others in terms of performing and executing the race. If one, I would say Valencia 2012, a race that probably in a normal world we would never be able to win again. If we repeated it 100 times, 99 of them we would not have ended up first. It was a good execution of a strategy, good overtakings, a lot of risk, bit everything worked well. The car was not particularly fast that weekend, we were not even in Q3. I think I lapped Felipe 10 laps to the end. It was not that we were in a dominant position that day but we still won it, so probably that race.

Q: (Dieter Rencken - Racing Lines, Racefans.net) Fernando, everybody speaks about Sunday's race being your last grand prix, but you haven't categorically ruled out returning to Formula 1. What would it take to bring you back, like champions such as Prost and Lauda did, they returned after retiring?
FA: Right now it's difficult to think about coming back but the door is not closed. The first reason is I don't know how I will feel next year. I've been doing this for my whole life. Maybe next year, by April or May, I am desperate, on the sofa, so you know, maybe I find a way to somehow come back. But it's not the initial idea. It's more about myself. If I come back it's not for any particularly or the line or something that has to happen, it's more how I feel in the middle of next year.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber - Agencia EFE) Fernando, how proud does it make you, not only what you accomplished in this sport, but what you accomplished for Spain and for Asturias?
FA: Definitely very proud. I think you only realise with time, when you see how many people follow the sport now in Spain, in my region in Asturias, how many people travel to Oviedo to visit the museum, to have the first go in go-karts. A lot of people started following Formula 1 and not Formula 1, motorsports in general, in my country, which definitely was not a tradition. We were not broadcasting the races in 2001, 2002, I think it started in the middle of 2003. Something that is unthinkable now, when Formula 1 is the second or third sport in Spain. That's something that I feel really proud of, and the same with some of the things I had in Spain, the Premio Príncipe de Asturias is probably the biggest thing I achieved, even more than any Formula 1 championship, because that kind of award is about changing people's lives and introducing a lot of people into one sport. So, those kinds of things are much bigger than any trophy.

Q: (Nate Saunders - ESPN) There are going to be a lot for Fernando, so Lewis I'll give you one. I know you've said you don't like talking too much about the past, but we're doing something about the German Grand Prix from this year. You've said a lot about the conditions and the fortune, and how things came together for you that weekend. What was it you did that weekend that wrestled the initiative back after what happened that Saturday?
LH: Jeez... Hockenheim... oh, where we had the issue of the failure in qualifying. I think it was really together, as a team... obviously we had the steering column failure on the Saturday, meaning that we would be starting from last, and I think we just pulled together and tried to make sure we could make the best of the Sunday, and all remained focused on getting a good result. I think it was just ultimately a true showing of the strength within the team. Even though we'd had a difficult day like that we pull together and look for other solutions to get us back up the front. That's really what we worked for. As a driver, it was moving past the stumble, or the fall, and getting straight back up and fighting next day as if I was starting at the front. Obviously certain things came along the way in terms of weather and that was just an opportunity for me to capitalise rather than make mistakes. I just think as a driver, I was able to really maximise on that day, not making any mistakes I was able to pull myself further forward than perhaps I would on another weekend.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Yas Marina, here.

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