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Spanish GP: Thursday Press Conference


Today's FIA press conference with Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Pierre Gasly and George Russell.

Carlos, welcome home. You've said that this is the most important race of the year, just tell us why that is and tell us what you've been up to in the build-up?
Carlos Sainz: Thank you and welcome to Spain, beinvenidos. Yeah, a special race for everyone I guess, but for me in particular because it's my home race. I'm one of those lucky drivers on the grid to have a home race to enjoy with the fans and the Spanish people. It's my fifth now and it's incredible how time goes by so quickly. I remember my first time here in 2015 like it was yesterday. Yeah, looking forward to enjoying it, spending some extra time with the fans and the media of course and that's it.

Q: Have you had more attention now that you are the only Spanish driver on the grid?
CS: Honestly I don't feel it. I don't feel like I get more or less attention. Probably this weekend I'll be quite busy. But it's not something that really affects me much or it's not something I'm noticing in particular, but if it does happen I guess it's not a bad thing.

Q: You've finished in the points every time you've raced here in Barcelona. How confident are you of continuing that trend this weekend?
CS: Well, I think one of the main reasons for that is that this track has always suited the car I've been racing with. I think I've struggled in the past with top speeds and long straights in the cars that I've been racing with and in Barcelona that deficit was always reduced. So it meant my cars that I was racing here were a bit better. But also I think I've always been comfortable in this track. I've had some success also in lower categories. I like the track, I like the challenge, I like racing with the fans behind me. I think after this week, what happened to Liverpool, you can also see that having a crowd behind you also helps and at least to me it always helps.

Q: Good luck for this weekend, thank you for that. George, coming to you. It's been a difficult start for you and the team this year. How important is this race in establishing a development path for the car? Are you aware of anything new?
George Russell: Well, there were a few things on the plan but unfortunately, after the incidents in Baku, they sort of shuffled things back a bit. But it's normal that every race that we have some things to test. At the moment we're probably slightly different to other teams because we're trying to test to understand our limitations and to try to bring something greater a bit further down the line, because obviously we are quite far behind at the moment and we need to find a sizeable chunk.

Q: What about from a driving point of view, how are you developing as a driver?
GR: I think very well to be honest. I think it's a great opportunity for me, being slightly under the radar, slightly less pressure off my shoulders. Really I'm only fighting with Robert let's say. I'm not really interested in that. I want to be fighting with the guys further up the grid and I'm working really closely with the team and with Robert actually because, as I said, we're not interested in fighting for 19th place.

Q: You're working closely with the team, but what about with Patrick Head? He's back as a consultant with Williams. How have those discussions gone with him?
GR: yeah, Patrick's a great guy. He's going to bring some motivation and some great spirit to the team, with obviously all of his knowledge. So much history with Williams as well, so I think it will be a positive step.

Q: Thank you very much. Pierre, coming on to you. We've seen progress with you at every grand prix this year; you've been chipping away at it. I wonder if you could give us a little bit more detail on what have been the issues with the car, and is it now more to your liking?
Pierre Gasly: Yeah, quite a lot of things happened since the beginning of the season I think, overall. Things don't really come our way so far, but we can see progress. I can feel I'm getting more comfortable inside the car and the direction we are taking is working and making me feel better. I think we saw some progress in Baku. We had penalties and unfortunately I had to retire in the race, but we are going in the right direction.

Q: You say you had progress in Baku. A lot has been made of Ferrari's power unit upgrade this weekend, but Honda brought an upgrade to Baku. What can you tell us about it?
PG: As we said in Baku, I think it was mainly on the reliability side. So I think everything is going as expected on the PU side. I think Honda is pushing massively into bringing new upgrades this season as well. But I think we are really pleased with what they have achieved since the beginning of the season in terms of performance and reliability. Of course we always want more, and we know Ferrari and Mercedes are also pushing and are still a bit faster than we are. But I think with the development we will catch progressively.

Q: Now, you've raced Max Verstappen for many years. How would you assess the job he's doing this year? Has he surprised you?
PG: I mean I've always known he's one of the most talented guys, but yeah, I must say he is really good at extracting the maximum from the package at the moment. For me it's really good to be next to him at the moment, use his experience with the team, with Red Bull Racing, with the car, to see a bit what he does to extract the maximum from the package that we have. He has been driving really well, really consistently, so it's definitely a good benchmark to me.

Q: Thank you Pierre, best of luck this weekend. Valtteri, coming to you: world championship leader, best ever start to a season, double the number of points as this time last year. People look for a reason why things happen. Do you have an explanation for why things are going better this year than last year?
Valtteri Bottas: There are many things in this sport that can affect things for sure. Sometimes you're more lucky for sure, sometime very much less so, but I honestly think why I've been able to improve year by year is work. Work with the team; work with my ability; focus on all the single details, and if you work hard it's only a matter of time before things start to go right. Obviously I'm pleased with season, how it has been started compared to recent ones, that's very positive. But also one of the things is as a team - the level we have been able to perform at in these first four races has been really impressive. It's not only me, it's the team, but it's a good battle with Lewis at the moment.

Q: You have a new race engineer this year. How has that shaken things up on your side of the garage?
VB: Yeah, I have a new engineering team completely, race and performance engineer, and whenever you have new people around it makes you think about some things differently. It can open up some new routes on the set-up and the direction. It has started really well. We have been learning a lot as an engineering team all the time and it's getting better and better. So far, so good.

Q: Now your boss Toto Wolff says Mercedes have been lucky at some races this season. Would you agree with that?
VB: Well, I think we have done a great job as a team and at the level we've been performing we deserve these results at the moment. Sometimes we might get lucky, like Bahrain, where obviously it was due to other teams failures that we got the one-two, but it meant that we were the most reliable car at that race. So it's not about luck, I think it's mostly how the team is performing.

Q: Thank you. Sebastian, we're heading into race five, what's the mood in the Ferrari camp?
Sebastian Vettel: Good.

Q: You've got a lot of upgrades coming this weekend. Do you need a faster car or a more driveable car? What are you hoping for from these upgrades?
SV: Well, we hope to improve the car obviously. We introduced some bits in Baku already last race and another set of new parts here. Obviously we want to make the car faster here and there. I think we were reasonably quick but not quick enough overall to put the cars on the front row at every event. We're lacking a little bit, but I think overall the package is promising. We know that we have a strong car; we've struggle a bit to put it together, so to answer your question, probably a bit of both.

Q: It's clear that you have a big fight on your hands, particularly with Mercedes. How is the team reacting to that compared with previous seasons, from an internal perspective?
SV: Well, every year is different. As I said, the spirit is good, the team is in good shape, so we're looking forward to come here, we're confident about the parts we've brought here, we are introducing a new engine as well, so we've got some stuff that wee think should help us to be stronger than the last races. And as I said, the spirit is good. Comparing to previous years, at this point last year we were in a better place, we had won some races and overall we'd been more competitive, but nevertheless I think the spirit is as good or better than last year.

Q: Before I open this up to the floor, it's the UN's global road safety week, something that all of you guys contributed to earlier on in the year when you helped produce a video. I've got a question to each of you, which is: what can everyday road users learn from Formula One drivers.
SV: Obviously we try to go as fast as we can, which is not a good idea on the roads, so my initial response would be 'not that much!' But we are very professional, we try to obviously control every situation that we are in, and I think we are very lucky that we can push ourselves to the limit on the race track, so there's no need to try to do something funny or odd outside the track. I think, as much as we respect ourselves on the track, you should respect other people that are participating and trying to get from one place to another. The road, or the track, you're not on your own. That's something that you hear many times from racing drivers at any time they raced in Formula One or other categories, that they respect the other people that raced with them. In the same way, you should respect other drivers that share the road with you.

CS: Basically, what Seb has said. You must not behave like an idiot on the road on the road. Respect everyone - and wear your seatbelt. I think those two things are the most important.

VB: We never have mobile phones in the cars - so that's something everyone can learn not to use them.

PG: Yeah, I agree with all the comments. I think most of us have been also involved in some loss from road car accidents. In my case, I have been, and I think safety is the most important thing. Respecting others, and yeah, just be responsible when you're on the road. You're not by yourself, you have other people around and yeah, I think it's important to take care of the lives of other people around, and also of your own life. As Seb says, we don't give a great example on track because hopefully we have the chance to drive really fast on track, but when we get to the road, we must be really responsible and be careful of others.

GR: I think it's important to respect the road. On a race track, you know what's around the corner, whereas on the road, anything could be there: could be a small child crossing the road or whatever. You have to respect the road: it's not a racetrack.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Barcelona, here.


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