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Russian GP: Friday Press Conference - Part 1

NEWS STORY
24/09/2021

Today's press conference with Andreas Seidl, Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.

Andreas, can we start with you and throw it back a couple of weeks. What a weekend for McLaren at Monza. What does that result mean for the team?
Andreas Seidl: Well, obviously is has been a while for McLaren to have a win and a 1-2. So it was obviously a great day for all of us, for every single member of the team, also back home in the factory. In the end, simply a confirmation that we are heading in the right direction, and what was really pleasing for me to see was how we also pulled it off that weekend. It was a win on merit, on this specific track, and to have a competitive car, a reliable car, quickest lap, quickest pit stop, yeah, gives me a lot of confidence also that we have some ingredients already in place that we need on our journey back to challenging these guys next to me in some years again at each race weekend. I think that was the most important thing for me to see. Of course it was very important at the track and also back home the week after that race that we enjoyed this moment also as a team.

And Andreas, what did it mean for you personally - because it's been a while since you last won a race in Formula 1, with BMW.
AS: Well, it's not about me, it's about the boys and girls at McLaren. Our fans, our partners. I said before, it was just great for me to see that, as a team you're heading in the right direction, we are making steps because that's key and important in order to get back to the fight we want to get in, in some years again, fighting for championships as well. In order to get there, you need to make steps and obviously to pull off a win like we did this weekend at Monza is one step towards that objective or goal.

And what will that victory do for Daniel Ricciardo, do you think?
AS: I think after the struggles he had in terms of adapting to our car, and having this tough first six months, it was important for him, after he came back quite strong already from Spa onwards, that it ended up in a great result as well. I think it will simply give him a lot more confidence now and a great boost in order to keep working together with the team, in order to deliver even more because I'm still convinced there's more to come from him - but I'm very happy, obviously, with how it went with him in Monza, and I'm looking forward to have a lot more good races in the coming races and years with Daniel and Lando.

You say you want a lot more good races. Has that Monza weekend changed the teams objectives for the remainder of this season?
AS: No, not at all. We have a very realistic picture of where we are at the moment. We expect a very intense battle with Ferrari for this P3 in the Constructors' Championship up to the last race. We know we still have a lot of work to do on the team side in order to make the next steps. That's what I admire when I look at Toto and Christian and their teams. These teams simply being able with their car, with their teams to pull it off each weekend and on each track, independent of track conditions, track characteristics, tyre selection. But, we have a clear plan in place on the team side, together with James, Piers and Andrea as well of how we want to tackle this challenge in the next years and we just need a bit more time to execute that plan.

Toto, can we start please by talking about Monza as well. Having had time to reflect on what happened at that race between Lewis and Max, do you still view it as a tactical foul by Max?
Toto Wolff: You know the point is that these two are racing for a Drivers' Championship and you can't expect them to have velvet gloves on. That's why we are going to see harsh moments like this, I believe. Obviously I'm biased, and I'm looking at the whole race, how it's panned-out. Sometimes you just need to bail out. This is what Lewis did on lap one. Could Max have done it? Probably he would have lost the position. I think it's very difficult and dangerous, you comment with the bias that you have, obviously cheering for your driver and your team. These two know what they do, they have it under control, and I guess we had a good chance to chase the McLarens, that were there on merit - absolutely agree - and score a bit more points.

You say they've got it under control - but do they? Do you expect them to have collisions going forward? What can we say on that?
TW: No, I think they pretty much know what they do. If both wanted to avoid collisions, we would have less collisions. If they don't avoid collisions because they feel it's right to not bail-out or not give room then we will have more. We are not sitting in the cars.

Christian, can we bring you in on this. Do you agree with what Toto's just said?
Christian Horner: I agree, look they're racers, they're going to race and to sit here and say they're never going to touch each other again in the next eight races, I doubt Toto has that control over Lewis and we don't over Max. It's down to them in their car, racing for the biggest, you know, trophy in motor racing. There are eight races to go. Obviously, we want it to be a really competitive, clean run-in to the end of the season. Inevitably when the drivers are starting next to each other so often and they're racing at venues that are very, very tight, Max is a no-quarter kind of guy; Lewis has demonstrated that he doesn't want to give anything either and when you get two racers of that mentality, you get incidents. Monza was unfortunate. It was a dramatic-looking accident at slow speed. It was neither driver wanting to concede and the end result was what we saw.

How do they avoid contact going forward?
CH: Well, we try to make sure he's ahead on the circuit, that's the easiest way. The reality is that neither of them should have been near each other. Unfortunately the pit-stop that we had conceded track time for Max, and Lewis should have been well-clear and then obviously the issue at his pit stop put the two of them pretty much alongside each other. The easiest way to avoid an incident is to be far enough up the road - but I've got a feeling they're going to be racing hard. It's been so tight between the two of them, the two teams have been separated by merely a tenth on average over the season to date and I think that's likely to continue over the last third of this championship.

So what is going to be the decisive factor in this championship battle? Is it going to be car or driver?
CH: It's going to be a combination of both, as always. So, it's going to be the driver, it's going to be the car, it's going to be reliability, it's going to be performance, it's going to be operation, it's going to be strategy, it's going to be development, it's going to be every aspect.

Christian, final one from me. Lewis spoke yesterday about the pressure of fighting for the world title. How well do you think Max is dealing with that?
CH: I don't see any change in him at all. Max is a young guy, he's going for it, he has nothing to lose. He's not sitting there with a bunch of World Championships defending a title, he's the challenger and I think that's the way he's attacking this championship. If you see the pressure he was under with the home crowd in Zandvoort, you don't get bigger pressure than that. I think the way he handled that in particular was truly impressive. I think that he's just really enjoying and relishing this battle. It's been a long, long time since we've been in a position like this. Of course that's exciting for him and it's exciting and motivating for the whole team.

Toto, do you see any change in Lewis in the way he's fighting this championship?
TW: No, they are both of them, throughout their career, have been racing at the very front of every single karting and junior series championship, and as always, there is an angle that people don't get to see and that's the focus, the concentration, the amount of work that he puts into the sport. He has been an instrumental part, as has Valtteri, in developing the car. They spent many days in preparation in the simulator now and no change. Actually, very upbeat, positive mood, enjoying the battle.

Video Conference

(Scott Mitchell - The Race) Question for Andreas please - but if Toto has anything to add, feel free - Andreas, what do you think the significance is of the team scoring its first win with Mercedes power at Monza and what does it say to the ultimate ambition of trying to become a World Championship-winning team again as an engine customer.
AS: First of all, the lap-time of a car is obviously the result of an entire package and the power unit plays an important role in that. When we made the decision that we wanted to go for the Mercedes power unit, there was a clear reason behind. We wanted to get the Championship-winning power unit at the back of our car because it simply gives us the best possible reference to know where we are as a team. I'm convinced, looking forward, that with a Mercedes power unit at the back of our car, even in this customer relationship we are having with the regulations how they are in place, also nowadays, that this is not in the way of fighting for championships again in the future. I'm just very happy, I have to say looking at these first months in this relationship, how it started. Again, I think both teams in Brixworth and in Woking have done a sensational job over the winter and the COVID restrictions as well, in order to integrate this power unit into our car. We were really ready from the first test onwards without any reliability issues, which is a great result, and I think the results we could score this year, together with the great work the team in Woking has also done on the car side, speak for themselves.

Check out our Friday gallery from Sochi, here.

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