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United States GP: Friday Press Conference - Part 2

NEWS STORY
23/10/2021

Today's press conference with Jost Capito and Guenther Steiner.

Both of your teams have close ties to the US, so after two years away, how good is it to be back racing here and how important is it to be back?
Guenther Steiner: Obviously being back here after having missed out last year, it's very nice. It's a good place. It's very important for the fans. There is a big appetite at the moment in the United states for Formula 1 and we can see that it is almost a full house. Over the whole weekend almost 400,000 people expected, which is a big number if you think about it. It's fantastic to be back. I think the race track they prepared it, as well, pretty good for us coming back here. It's very nice to be back here and it's good for me because I live in America, so no jet lag!

Jost Capito: I was here the last time in 2016, five years ago but it's the first time for the new owners of Williams. I know it's just a year since they got into Williams and it's very important for them, so we have 400 guests over the weekend here and all their companies are invited, so it will be big for us. As Guenther said, Formula 1 is in a moment, there is a big hype in the US and I think Netflix, with Drive to Survive, has a big part of this. And same with the full house, as Guenther also said, nearly 400,000 over the three days is absolutely fantastic and what we see already today on a Friday, I'm not sure when I have ever seen this kind of crowd for a Friday and it's absolutely fantastic to see. I hope Formula 1 will do a good show over the weekend and it will get even more important and better.

Now Jost, let's stay with you because while we're talking all things American, big news this morning, you've just signed an American driver to your academy, Logan Sergeant. Just talk us through why you've done that?
JC: Yeah, we're looking... and you know we have the academy and we have to restructure the academy and we want to do more with the drivers and we were looking at what are the upcoming talents and Logan, for sure, is one who is not signed up by any other manufacturer and I think we've signed him up for talent, not for being American, so as he's American, we have American owners and there is no American driver in Formula 1, it's a perfect fit, especially for us and we expect him to really move on fast and getting involved in the team and I'm absolutely convinced he has a great future.

What's the programme going to be? Are we going to see him doing some FP1s next year, maybe?
JC: I can't say that yet because we're still in the final stages to get this all agreed and sorted out but we will have a good programme for him.

And Jost, while we're talking drivers, you've also spoken highly about Mick Schumacher recently. Just tell us a little bit more? Is he part of your plans for the future, maybe?
JC: Yeah, I was asked what I thought about Mick and maybe because I'm German and he's German. And I think he's going a great job, as Guenther can confirm, he's a great job as a rookie, he gets better and better. I think he's very confident. I think he's working hard as well, that's what I believe, he's a nice guy and I was asked if he was good enough to be in a winning team. I said definitely, he has, for sure, in the future, he should have the chance to be in a car that can win. Maybe next year, you already have a car that can win. And then the media said, yeah, I'm open door for Williams and I'm very happy and so honoured that the media think if I'm talking about a winning car, they mean the Williams.

Let's talk about this weekend. How competitive are you going to be here, this weekend, at COTA?
JC: I don't know yet, it's too early to say. Especially as George has to start from the back, so...

Tell us about the decision to change his power unit?
JC: I think we've seen that many teams have had to change the power unit and we are by far not the first. So we've seen this coming, that it has to be done so this is now here.

Guenther, can we start by talking about Mick; his Q2 performance in Turkey? Have you seen him take a step forward recently? Are you confident that he can repeat that kind of pace here this weekend?
GS: I've seen that he developed pretty well. He just, as I would say, it's difficult to show when you have a car like ours at the moment, like we've got this year, it's difficult to show to the public what he can do, but when the opportunity came in Turkey, he took it and he showed what he can do. But it's not only the driving, I see the whole picture of the driver. It's not only how fast can he be on a lap, also how handles the situation, to put himself in the position to take advance of a situation. That's what he did in Turkey. It was unstable conditions with the weather, with the track surface and at the right time, he did the right thing with the team together, but how they worked together, it shows that he always stays calm, there was never a moment of panic, it was just everything was... he was ready for it, you know, and being ready in a situation like this means that he will be ready when you've got a better car in any situation, in my opinion. For sure, there will be mistakes be made but he really stepped up in Turkey to get into Q2, because he took... they took together the right decision at the right time and that made me very happy. I was more happy how they did that than the actual lap, how it was, because I know the limitations of the car, so just to take that opportunity was fantastic for the whole team and they can all be proud of it.

Let's talk about F1 in America. Austin and Miami are on the calendar of course in 2022 with talk of a third race in the future as well. As the only American team on the grid, how can you leverage that increased profile of Formula 1 on this side of the pond?
GS: I think we neglected that a little bit, in the beginning when we came in, because Formula 1 grew very quickly in the last two years, I would say. In the beginning, when we started it was a lot smaller and now it seems... why we didn't see that coming? I didn't have a crystal ball telling me but obviously we think this interest, we need to put more emphasis on it to attract sponsors, to get involved more with people from America and I think, as Jost says, there needs to come an American driver, give him a chance... in a good position to do that which is fantastic, which will be the next thing which will happen, an American driver in F1, so we just need to now focus a little bit more on the United States and do a better job than we did before, but I wouldn't say we did a bad job, it was just that the market wasn't there and now there is a market here, there is a big demand for Formula 1 so hopefully we can get a little bit of something out of it.

And there's a lot of speculation surrounding Michael Andretti potentially involved with a team. Would you welcome the arrival of the Andretti name in the sport?
GS: Yeah, as you said, there's a lot of speculation. I don't know any more than you, I guess, so I have no issue with... if Andretti brings in an investor which brings another American team to the grid, I'm fine with that.

Questions From The Floor

(Scott Mitchell - The Race) To both please. Given the situation that F1 finds itself in, the growth of the championship, budget cap, fairer financial distribution amongst the teams, everything that's going on; has there been a better time to own an F1 team than now and do you agree with Toto Wolff's suggestion that F1's on the verge of every team on the grid being a profit-making team?
JC: Yeah. I don't know if there haven't been better times because I haven't been in Formula 1 all the time, since Formula 1 exists, but I think when you look at the recent times, I think with the cost-cap situation, with the various races, with the new races, Formula 1 has a great opportunity and if they take to it right and the teams do it right, I think there is a good chance for the teams to be profitable in the future.

GS: What Jost said is completely right. I think there is, in the history which I know, in which I was involved in racing, I think this is the best time and I would agree with Toto that if you do a good job here, the aim of our business should be to make a profit, that is why you do business and I think there was never a better time than now to do this and also the value of a team, there is never a higher value than now for a team. I see it positive and I would just say that Liberty Media, since they took over, they really pushed hard the business aspect because they know a profitable business is here to stay, because a business which is losing money after a while, I always say, you run out of money or you run out of passion, one of the two, so then you stop and then you get into this... the teams not being worth a lot of money but I think it's a very good time, at the moment for all the teams.

(Christian Nimmervoll - motorsport.com) Jost, there's a lot of talk about 23 races in next year's calendar being a bit of a stretch for people and their families involved. I do remember that Cyril Abiteboul suggested, a couple of years ago, that probably doing less races would be worth considering, in terms of people not looking worn out and exhausted on TV and creating more exclusivity for individual events and creating more promoter fees from individual events by the rules of the market. Do you think that that's an approach worth considering or does Formula 1 need to grab the opportunity that is there at the moment with both hands, with as many events as possible? And Guenther, if you want to add something, but I think I've heard you on this before.
JC: Yeah, I think Formula 1 has to grab the opportunities with both hands and it doesn't mean as many races as possible. I think they could have 40/50 races and for sure that's a bit too much but when you say that 23 races and compared to the races before, we have to see that when I've been in Formula 1 before there were 40 tests and there was part of a test team but also part of the race team went to the various tests and there was no curfew and the guys worked 24/7 and I am convinced, Formula 1, at that time, to work in Formula 1 was harder than it is now.

GS: I think Jost ganged up with Franz Tost, saying 40 races a year!

Check out our Friday gallery from COTA, here.

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