Today's press conference with Antonio Giovinazzi, Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell.
Welcome gentlemen. It was announced yesterday that Silverstone has a new long-term deal to remain on the Formula 1 calendar. I'd like to get each of your thoughts on that, starting with Lewis please?
Lewis Hamilton: Well, good afternoon everyone. It was a good surprise to hear that they had re-signed. It wasn't necessarily a surprise. As I spoke to you guys before I knew that it was going to happen. It's clear the Formula 1 can't exist without the home of motorsport, which is the British Grand Prix. Yeah, really, really happy. It's great for the fan base and for that to continuously grow over the next years to come.
Thank you Lewis. Lando?
Lando Norris: It's going to be my first race this weekend. I've race here in the past. I love driving Silverstone. It would have been a shame to ever see it go, especially if I only would have done this race, this year and not done it again. Glad to see it still here and I look forward to coming back every year.
George Russell: Yeah, obviously very pleased for it to be on the calendar again. I think F1 couldn't live without Silverstone. It's the home of the British Grand Prix. Formula 1 is a very British sport and overall it's just an amazing circuit to drive and there's something special about Silverstone when you come here. Like you said, I'm not surprised it's continued.
Daniel Ricciardo: Very happy. It's a cool track, cool atmosphere. It was eight years ago this weekend, it was my F1 debut here, so it's always been pretty personal to me. But I've enjoyed it. I don't know how it would feel being somewhere else. It feels normal and right it have it here. It feels like the home of British motorsport. I like that. There's that real camping atmosphere, that festival vibe. Yeah, the Brits love and we do too.
Antonio Giovinazzi: Yes, it's a track with a lot of history, so it was really nice to see that this circuit will be here for another five years. With an F1 car I think it's amazing to drive here, so I can't wait to start tomorrow and do my first grand prix at Silverstone.
Antonio, if we can stay with you, you got your first world championship point in Austria a couple of weeks ago. How did that feel and how confident are you of maintaining that run of form here?
AG: Yeah, cost me a little bit of my hair! It was for a good reason I would say. It was actually a different bet with Fred, because it all started at Paul Ricard and he said: 'if you score your first point I will cut your hair'. And then it didn't happen and then in Austria we said 'so, if I don't score points you will my hair', but I scored points, so it's a bit of a mess. Yeah, I'm really happy with this. It was a great weekend so far for me and the team. We went to Q3 with both cars and also top 10 for me and Kimi. So we just need to keep working like that. We had a really good car since Paul Ricard and now here we have another upgrade so I hope again that we are on a good direction and I hope we can stay there and keep fighting and take a little bit of the gap from McLaren as they are still a little bit in front of us, so we just need to keep working.
You've not raced here before in Formula 1 yet, so just can you tell us a little bit about your preparations. What have you ascertained from the simulator, what are your engineers telling you?
AG: Luckily, I did one FP1, back in 2017 in F1. Of course it will be a completely different story now. Of course I did some simulator, like every driver, I watched some onboard from last year, working with the team. But you know, when you are in the car it will be completely different things but we have FP1, FP2 tomorrow, so we have a lot of time. It's track I've already raced in F3, Formula 2 so yeah, just looking forward to racing it in F1.
Ok, good luck this weekend. Daniel, tricky race for you and the team in Austria. What conclusions have you drawn since then?
DR: It was. It wasn't a fun one for us really. We obviously got pretty deep into it after and tried to figure out why we were off the pace all weekend. Definitely feel we learned some things with set-up and I think we kind of just started in a direction which we kept pursuing from Friday, thinking it was the right way to go, but I think in hindsight it wasn't. It's probably more just a set-up misdirection we went for as opposed to anything crazy we found on the car. I was hoping to find a cracked chassis or something like that! I think the car does have a little bit of a sweet spot and I think we had worked towards that the last few weekends, getting those Q3s and building that confidence within myself and that momentum, but we kind of shifted a little bit away from that in Austria, for reasons that seemed to make sense at the time from a set-up point of view and all that. I think we kind of moved away from something we'd got to know but we'll try to bring it back this weekend for Silverstone and go back to what we know.
You say the car has a sweet spot. Why is it so difficult to keep it in that area?
DR: I wish I knew. I wish I knew. Sometimes I'm glad I'm not an aerodynamicist or an engineer because it would rattle my brain. For, personally, driving the car, I know where I'm comfortable with it and I know where I like it and when we start going down a certain direction that's where we run into problems, under braking or whatever. There's an area where I certainly feel more comfortable and I believe the car is better in that phase. I don't know, it's just race cars, mate! As I said, eight years I've now been here and you still scratch your head. But I think that's part of the attraction as well, because when you do get it right and it all kind of works in harmony it's an amazing feeling.
As you said, you made your F1 debut at Silverstone in 2011. How do you sum up the last eight years of your life?
DR: It's been fun. I remember vividly the press conference here eight years ago. I actually get embarrassed looking back at photos, I looked like an idiot - an idiot that needed a haircut. Same boat as Antonio! I don't know, it's kind of a whirlwind, but it's amazing how go through it and feel... Obviously I feel much more comfortable here now than I did eight years ago. I guess just that kind of sense of belonging. Eight years ago I was here just like a deer in the headlights, is that the expression? You're kind of just overwhelmed by everything and it's like 'wow, I'm really here now in F1'. You obviously have a lot of belief in yourself but until you really get the results that you believe you can get, there's always maybe that little bit of doubt. Obviously that has built up well over the years. I don't feel like one of the older guys yet, I'm kind of getting there, but I still feel young and sharp and good looking.
Thanks Daniel. Lando, many congratulations on your new McLaren deal for 2020. How exciting is that news and what do you feel you and the team can achieve over the next 18 months?
LN: Thank you very much. I'm very excited I guess. It's just good news. Things have been going reasonably well lately, so to have that news is just a bonus. And of course knowing I'm going to be here next year makes it a bit more comforting overall, but it doesn't change too much in hindsight. Looking ahead to the next two years let's say, there's a lot of progress we've got to make. I want to be racing this guy on my right a bit more over the next couple of years, not just myself but as a team that's our goal. That's what we are trying to work towards, that's what we are slowly chipping away at but it's going to take two years, it's going to take even more than probably. We'll take it step by step and see how we go.
As you say, you're hoping to race Lewis over the next two years, but you actually raced him at the start last time out in Austria, how was that?
LN: It was cool. I got past him in Turn 1, which was very nice of him. He didn't force me off or anything, it was a nice little bit we did in Turn 1. And then he just had a better position down the straight, behind Valtteri, in the slipstream. It wasn't a proper fight I don't think. It would have been nice to hang on a little bit longer than I did, but that position is the aim for us, we want to be in P3, we want to be fighting for the podium. It was nice to be there, very momentarily, but it wasn't to be. But it is something I would love to look forward to.
As with Antonio, I just wanted to ask you about your preparation for this weekend, but looking slightly longer term, you've raced at Silverstone in the FIA's junior ranks - Formula 4, F3, F2. I just wanted to ask you how different each of those categories is and how they helped prepare you for this moment?
LN: Well, I actually started in 2014 racing Ginettas but that was on the national circuit, so it has stepped up quite a bit since then. But they've prepared me more and more I guess. Every lap you do you learn something very small even, but you learn something and that always helps. But I guess the biggest progression is Formula 3 - reasonably high downforce given the size and weight of the car. So you have a very good feeling through Maggots, Becketts, you get to really push the limits and see what it's like. And it's kind of a similar feeling when you go to F1 - I think, I've not driven it yet - feeling the G-Force, feeling the downforce, that's something you already start to get a bit of a feel of in Formula 3 and a little but in Formula 2. Nothing in particular, but every step you take is a step forward and it definitely helps.
George, you finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen in Austria last time out, so it seems the car is really starting to make progress now. How confident are you of another strong showing this weekend ?
GR: Yeah, I think it's a step-by-step process for us at the moment. The team has two very difficult years... or a very difficult year last year, sorry. They wanted to change a lot of the structure and it was almost that we had to make two steps back before we made three steps forward. The groundworks are kind of really in place at the moment to try to bring more performance to the car as the season progresses and I've got confident we can do that. But the fact is it's going to be another difficult weekend for us and we've just got to do our maximum week in, week out, but yes, it was nice to be racing someone other than just Robert in Austria.
Check out our Thursday gallery from Silverstone, here.