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Bahrain GP: Friday Press Conference: Part 1

NEWS STORY
27/11/2020

Today's press conference with Mattia Binotto, Otmar Szafnauer and Andreas Seidl.

Q: Mattia, perhaps we could start with you please. This fight for P3 in the Constructors' Championship. Ferrari are 24 points behind Racing Point who are in third. Do you believe that your team is genuinely in the fight now?
Mattia Binotto: I believe it is very difficult. I believe the way we should approach it is race-by-race, try to confirm the progress that we have seen in the last races. I would say that's our objective. I think our objective has been, as summer time, try to improve, to progress, to make sure that at least we understood the weaknesses on the car and are capable of addressing them for next year. But certainly if we've got good results, as it has been at the last race weekend, it's not impossible - but again I think it will be very difficult. Every single race circuit is different. I think here in Bahrain, I don't think it will suit, eventually to our car, better than others. So finally it will be certainly an exciting end to the season for the third place but fifth would be more realistic rather than third.

Q: I'm going to put the same question to the two guys in the room with us. Andreas, perhaps we could start with you, McLaren currently P4 but just five points behind Racing Point.
Andreas Seidl: Yes, it's obviously a very intense battle, three more races to go and you can feel also within the team, the tension building-up but I think it's simply important that we approach these next three weekends in the same way that we did all season. It's important to simply focus on ourselves. We have a competitive car, we have a great team and two great drivers, so it's simply important now to maximise the race weekends again, similar to what we did many times this year, and then I hope we stay in this battle up to the last race. As I have said several times already, of course we want to fight for this P3 as long as we can but at the same time, for me, it's as important, independent of the outcome of the Championship, to see that we made a step forward again with the team, with the car, with the way how we work together. I'm very happy with what I'm seeing there, and that's the most important thing for me, in order to achieve our goal in the future, which is simply getting closer again to the front.

Q: And Otmar, for you, you're currently P3. Do you think you've got the pace to stay there?
Otmar Szafnauer: Well, we'll work hard to make sure we get the car where it needs to be over one lap at the next three races as well as on long-run pace and make sure we have clean races so we can finish both drivers. If we can achieve that, we'll work hard to maintain third place.

Q: Mattia, coming back to you, Carlos Sainz said in the press conference yesterday that one-and-a-half days of testing ahead of next year won't be enough for him to get familiar with everything at Ferrari. So what preparations have you got planned for him - and might they include a run in a two-year old car?
MB: Yeah, certainly one-and-a-half days is very short, is very little time. Obviously we are planning to organise something for Carlos, to make sure he can speed up somehow his integration with the team, with the engineers, with the car, with our way of working, our procedures. Simulator will be important in that respect. Obviously at the simulator he may work with his race team, his engineers, technicians but yes, as you said, we are currently trying to organise, January time eventually, to run with an old car, just to make sure again, he gets used to the team and our procedures and know the people.

Q: Andreas, coming to you. Carlos leaves, Daniel Ricciardo comes in. What are your preparations for him over the winter?
AS: The rules are pretty clear of what we can do, plus we also do not have the possibility at the moment at McLaren to run an old car, which means it's pretty straightforward in terms of him, Daniel, running the car. We only have the possibility in this single test with the three days but of course we are working hard within the team at the moment, together with Daniel from the first of January onwards, to integrate him into the team as quickly as possible. As Mattia said, there's a lot of things you can do also outside of the car in terms of preparation, together with the engineers in the simulator and so on. And then, Daniel is an experienced driver, we are an experienced team, so it's important to take it as it is, also in terms of regulations, and then get on with it, and then I'm sure we will be ready at the first race to have Daniel in a competitive position with us.

Q: And Otmar, very much the same question for you. You're involved in the driver merry-go-round as well, Sebastian Vettel coming in. What are your plans for his preparation?
OS: We too don't have the ability to run a two-year old car, so we'll be doing everything we can with Seb to get him integrated into the team, do a lot of sim work with him as well and then use the three days of testing that we have to the best of our ability to get him ready for the first race.

Video Conference

Q: (Andrew Benson - BBC) This one's for Mattia. Mattia, on the one hand, Charles did a fantastic recovery drive in Turkey, picking up something like 35 seconds on Sebastian in 25 laps and overtaking him, and then made a mistake on the final lap and was very hard on himself. How do you talk to him about that situation - and in general how do you assess Charles' season?
MB: Probably, focusing on the race itself, as far as the quali, it has not been his best quali of the season. He made a mistake at the start, he made very, very few mistakes in driving in difficult conditions, only on the last corner. I think generally-speaking it has been an outstanding race because he has been very fast and, as you said, he has recovered a lot of time in the race itself. The race has not been perfect because of the small mistake but considering the conditions, which were very, very difficult, he made a fantastic race and I think he has proved how strong he is in driving in difficult situations and difficult conditions, and how fast he can be. I think that Charles does not need to prove how fast he is; I think everyone knows how good he is, driving, quali, race, difficult conditions. I think in that respect again, very well done. Obviously he was disappointed at the end of the race. We discussed, somehow, the radio comments but generally speaking, again, on the overall season, I think it has been an important season for him, very difficult from the competitiveness point of view of our car but I think that in terms of leader of the team, he is developing himself. He is very supportive, he understands when it's time to support the team, when it's time to push, when it's time to somehow really improve. He's aware that results of the future are somehow depending as well on his contribution. I think in that, he's really a leader. Not only a driver, he developed himself quite a lot this season. On top of that, he learned a lot as well in terms of driving, managing the tyres, race pace, and I think that in terms of, certainly his ability to drive, he improved again, during the season itself. So, I'm pretty sure Charles will be a strong driver in the future. He's already very strong but he will be even stronger - and certainly next year as well.

Q: (Luke Smith - Autosport) Another question for Mattia. Red Bull have said they really want to make a decision about their future engine supply by the end of November. Obviously a lot of that is dependent on an agreement to an engine freeze and a freeze and development. Ferrari have said in the past that it would not be in favour of this. I was just wondering, has that position changed at all? Where do you see things moving from there -and do you think there can be any way an engine freeze can be agreed for the future?
MB: I think what we said is there are already regulations in place where somehow Red Bull got a solution. They may be supplied by other manufacturers, that's no doubt. We understand there intention as well to keep using their Honda engine for the future. We had meetings in the last days with F1 and the FIA. I think as Ferrari, we understand the situation. We are somehow supportive in trying to anticipate by one season, one year, the freezing of the engines. That will mean as well trying to anticipate to 2025 the new regulations for the power unit. So, knowing the situation and understanding somehow the situations, it is not the first time that I think Ferrari is acting responsibility, in a responsible way, in that respect. So, we will support freezing by anticipating by one year the engines and the power unit.

Check out our Friday gallery from Bahrain, here.

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