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Abu Dhabi GP: Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
29/11/2019

Thursday's press conference with Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Max Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat.

Part One - with Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen and Max Verstappen.

Q: Charles, if we could start with you, please. We're going to take a look back at the last race in Brazil, to begin with. Having had time to review the video footage, what's you analysis of what happened in the incident between you and Sebastian?
Charles Leclerc: Yeah, we looked at it and I particularly looked at it, obviously, to try to understand how we could have made the things better. I think it was very unfortunate, first of all, because the touch was extremely small and it had a big drama after that, and that was a bit unlucky. But as a team we should probably try to be a bit less aggressive in between each other, for these things to not happen again. For the team it's not good. For everyone supporting us it's not good, so we will try for it to not happen again.

Q: What has happened since the Brazilian Grand Prix? Have you guys all met up in Maranello and had a chat?
CL: Yeah, I was there for the simulator, so on this occasion we also took the day to discuss a little bit and yeah, I'm pretty sure it won't happen again.

Q: Seb is still on your Christmas card list?
CL: Sorry?

Q: I was joking: Seb is still on your Christmas card list.
CL: Oh yeah!

Q: Charles, if we can look back at the season as a whole now. Your first with Ferrari. A lot of headlines that you can very satisfied with on a personal level - the wins, the seven poles, including being the youngest ever Ferrari pole sitter. But in terms of the team's performance it has been a bit of a rollercoaster. How would you sum it up?
CL: It's been a bit of a weird season. We started definitely not where we thought we would start after winter testing. Winter testing was very positive and we arrive at the first race and we have been struggling quite a lot. After that I think the progression was very good. Austin was a little bit weird too; we still don't really understand why we were so off the pace. Brazil we were back to where we wanted. But overall we progressed quite a lot, which I think is the most important [thing]. Now I'm really looking forward to keeping this momentum for next year. It's the first time in my single-seater where I stay in the same team from one year to another, which also should be an interesting challenge to develop a car. Let's see, but overall I think it has been a positive season, apart from the first race, which has been very negative.

Q: Thank you Charles and good luck this weekend. Max, a question about this year for you too. It's the team's first season with Honda. Has it exceeded your expectations?
Max Verstappen: I don't know. It's been very promising and I think also we had some good results. For me, what was more important was reliability. That has been very strong throughout the whole year and also the progression we made with the engine itself. Yeah, that has all been going really well. But we always want more, so we will never be satisfied with what we are doing. It's been good and I think it is a good, let's say, basis for next year as well. We learned a lot throughout the whole year and I feel confident that we can have a positive to next season.

Q: Dominant win for you last time out in Brazil. Which team comes into the Abu Dhabi with the fastest car?
MV: I don't know; we'll find out. Still, looking at the season, you'd have to say Mercedes. We'll see how the weekend will progress. It's still also a lot about just finding the right set-up. I think the last few races the three teams, the three top teams have been really close to each other and I hope it's going to be the same here.

Q: Thank you Max. Kevin, for your 2019 started strongly, but it tailed off quite dramatically. Why did it go wrong?
Kevin Magnussen: I think there are a few different reasons, but it became very clear in Bahrain that we had a problem, which was really strange because in winter testing and in the first race the car was really good. Even in Bahrain in qualifying we qualified... I can't remember, sixth of something, up there. Then in the race it just completely fell apart. So from there on it was a little bit of panic in the team. We couldn't really focus on... kind of find the real root of the problem. We were looking a lot at tyres and blaming the problem on tyres issues whereas in fact it was a little more simple, I think, just aero issues, unstable aero and the whole platform just not being strong enough and consistent, stable enough. It's a very, I would say, frustrating problem, because we have able to qualify well but in the race we just have not had any strength. That's very frustrating as a driver, where you start in a position and then you're just fighting to try to hang on to your position rather than attacking the guy in front. In that way it's been pretty frustrating, but on the other hand, we are a very young team, it's only our fourth year. Last year we got P5 in the Constructors' Championship. I think that's pretty impressive. I don't think many teams have done that in their third year. So we've got to take some confidence from that as well and just build on the experience that we have had this year and the learning that we have done and then just come back stronger next year.

Q: You say it's been frustrating for the drivers, but how have you progressed as a driver this year?
KM: Well, you always learn in any situation but especially when it's difficult you learn different things and you just have to approach your problems in a different way and I think that gives you strength and some experience that you wouldn't necessarily have gotten if you were just cruising and driving in a perfect car. So in many ways it's also been positive, both for me, as a driver, and for the team as well.

Questions From The Floor

Q: (Andrew Benson - BBC Sport) Question for Charles. You say you are pretty sure that an incident like that won't happen again, but how can you be so sure. Was blame apportioned by the team in the meetings you had? What guidelines and rules have been laid down about racing together in the future and are you even allowed to race together in the future?
CL: No, I think this doesn't change. We will be able to race together. Obviously, Seb and myself are very competitive, we both want to win, but we also need to find the right compromise. We are also racing for the same team. As I said earlier, we need to be lees aggressive towards each other and give us a little bit more space for these things to not happen again. Of what I know, that's the only thing that will happen for the next races, but maybe Mattia can go a bit further into that. Apart from that, I don't think there is much we can do. Obviously, as I said, the consequences were huge in the last race but if you look back at the contact it was very, very small. It was unfortunate but we will make sure it doesn't happen again.

Q: (Jon McEvoy - Daily Mail) Charles, just to go back to what Andrew asked before. Did either driver do as was suggested and say “I was to blame for that”, you or Seb? And b, are there now sort of new arrangement that if you do have an accident for example that you might be fined or banned or sacked or is it just sort of idle hope?
CL: On the second question there's been nothing said on that. We called with Seb and we tried to understand both of our situations. I think probably Seb shouldn't have gone to the left and he knows it and I probably could have done a better job of avoiding him going to the left. So yeah, both of us have a bit of responsibility, but the most important thing is that everything is clear with Seb and we move forward.

Q: (Walter Koster - Saarbrucker Zeitung) Charles, before I start my question, I have to remind you of high praises - no doubt you have had more good races than bad ones, but if we stick to the less good races with bad luck and mishaps, such as Baku, where the Ferrari hit the barriers, in Bahrain where you lost the lead due to an engine problem, in Austria where you were caught by Max and Monaco, your first home race, was very disappointing with last place and probably the low point, in Hockenheim, it was a mistake of the driver and last in Brazil, the finish after a hard battle with your team-mate. Now, my question to the pop star of Formula 1: what was your best race among your worst races? Can you give us, please, a ranking regarding your five not so good races, starting with the worst? I'm a polite person or man, please excuse this question, but I still hope for an answer.
MV: Wow!

CL: That was a long question. Congratulations. Kevin, you can start.

KM: I'm in a trance.

MV: Well [Charles] you are the pop star, so first of all, can you sing?

CL: Yeah, I can sing. I won't sing now, but I can sing. I don't know...

MV: I lost you after a few sentences.

KM: You have to rank your five worst races.

CL: Worst races? Five worst? OK, that was a simple question. So...

Check out our Friday gallery from Yas Marina, here.

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