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Miami GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference

NEWS STORY
07/05/2022

Today's official FIA press conference featuring all twenty drivers.

Group 1: Lewis Hamilton, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll

Lewis, you're up first of all. How's Miami been so far for you?
Lewis Hamilton: It's been great. The weather is incredible. And we've had such a warm welcome here. So just been happy to be out here and, yeah, been out on the water. Great training. And yeah, the ambience in the town is incredible.

...bit of golf as well.
LH: I did something with Tom [Brady]. Yeah, but I'm not really very good!

Lewis, let's quickly talk from a performance point of view, what can we expect from you and Mercedes this weekend?
LH: You can expect that we'll begin giving it our all, and trying our best. There's been a huge amount of work going on in the background. Everyone working as hard as they can; you can see we got to a new rear wing, for example. So, I'm just grateful for everyone continue to keep their heads down. And for the amazing, hard work that everyone is putting in.

Do you think you'll be closer to the pace?
LH: I don't anticipate much change in that sense.

Pierre, coming to you now. Well, first up, how was dinner with Michael Jordan?
Pierre Gasly: Well, it was by far the best dinner I ever had really. Honestly, super, super inspiring. Really special evening, just to learn, you know, like the experience and to be able to hear from such a successful guy. I don't think there was anyone else that inspired me more since I was a kid. And yeah, I mean, it was very, very special.

You even managed to get him to try your helmet on?
PG: Yeah, I did. He did. Yeah, we exchanged. So, I gave him one of one of my helmets and gave me a pair of Jordans. So that was pretty cool. But no, mainly just to hear his experience, his career, the mentality, the leadership that he has. Even at his age, he's so competitive and it was just an amazing, amazing evening.

Let's talk on track quickly. Slightly disappointing race for you last time out in Imola. Although you did have a good battle with the man on your right, Lewis Hamilton. Where is the pace of the AlphaTauri at the minute, relative to the opposition?
PG: Well, we're still trying to figure out, obviously from track to track it changes. Imola, we got it wrong from qualifying onwards and we were involved in a crash in the sprint, started from the back and, as we saw, was impossible to overtake. So, clearly fighting with Lewis was not for the positions we like, but I think there is more than that. And now we'll find out in Miami what we can do. But yeah, we can clearly fight for the top 10. I'm confident for that. And that's what we will push for.

Alex coming to you now. Tell us about your experiences in Miami so far this week.
Alex Albon: I arrived pretty late. So I haven't seen too much of the place but it's been pretty good. It's hot, very humid. And yeah, my girlfriend was competing maybe two hours away in Fort Myers, so I was out a little bit earlier, watching her play but that was that was about it.

Quick trip to the hair salon by the looks of things...
AA: Yeah, it looks red on the on the camera there. Yeah, we got it dyed before Melbourne and we finished 10th and then as the dye faded away, we finished 11th In Imola. So it started to affect the performance! So, we re-dyed it, hoping for more points!

Well, you finished 11th In Imola, but it was actually still have a great race by you. What can we expect this weekend from Williams?
AA: Yeah, it was a great race in Imola, and I think we're fighting at the heels for points. It's been two good races where we started out of position just with some issues or with a disqualification from Melbourne. So hopefully we can have a bit more of a smoother weekend this time around, especially for the qualifying, and we'll see. It seems like a very tricky circuit. I do believe that being a new circuit, there's a bit more opportunity in that. Hopefully we can hit the ground running and be ahead of a few others.

Sergio, coming to you now. What chance of you making a full-time switch to the Miami Marlins baseball team?
Sergio Perez: I don't think so! I think I'll stick with what I'm doing for now! There was not much talent!

Yeah, but was it fun? Just tell it tell us about the whole experience.
SP: It's obviously a very nice experience, to be there with the players learning from another sport. There were a few fans there. So, it's always nice to learn from other sports.

It was another strong performance for you at Imola last time out. Do you see any reason why you and Red Bull can't be the pace-setters this weekend?
SP: I think we were pretty confident we're going to be in fight, but it obviously depends on many factors. I think none of us have been used to these track temperatures. We haven't driven under these track temperatures that we are expecting. So, it will be interesting how the tyres cope with it, and to see which team are able to adapt the best.

Lance coming to you now. What's been the highlight of your stay in Miami so far?
Lance Stroll: Oh, just you know, it's great to be here, the sunshine. Yeah, it's a fun city and I always enjoy coming to Miami. Yeah, I've got some friends around this week. Yeah, now it's time to go racing. So really looking forward to it.

What is the mood in the camp? Because it was a much better race for Aston Martin last time out. Is everyone very buoyed by what happened at Imola?
LS: It was great to get both cars in the points in Imola. I think it was a big boost for the team. We have to see how we go this weekend. I mean, we're going to be, you know, pushing hard and coming up with some ideas, setting up the car and try to find some more pace and see how we go.

Questions From The Floor

(Jordan Bianchi - The Athletic) This is for all five drivers. Impressions of the track so far, during the track walk, and if you guys have done any sim work, and what you've taken away from that?
LS: Well, it looks fun, it looks challenging. It's tight, a lot of walls, a combination of high-, low-speed corners with some long straights. So hopefully, we see some good racing. I think there's some good overtaking opportunities, into 17, into the hairpin. I'm sure it'll be fun to drive and be a good show on Sunday.

SP: I think it will be a nice track to drive. It will be interesting to see the grip level, the asphalt looks a bit different. Some places, it looks like it's already opening up. But other than that, I think it's going to be a great race. The circuit really has long straights, so for racing, should be a good a good circuit for racing. And yeah, we should give a good, fun race for the fans.

AA: It was a tricky one, I found. I felt like it was one of the... it took me one of the longest circuits to get up to speed, at least on the on the simulator. It seems very technical. And just doing the track walk yesterday, the kerbs seem to be different to what we're used to. Sometimes there are no curbs at all. So, I think track limits are going to be a big topic this weekend. But I'm excited. I feel like it's obviously a good track. And I think it favours the racing, especially. The racing should be good.

PG: Yeah, I think it's going to be a cool track. Similar comments to the guys: very, very long straight, so I guess, good for overtaking, should be quite a lot of action on Sunday. And yeah, quite interesting. This very high-speeds first section, very tight second section, so they will be a compromise to find but all in all, I think they came up with a great track design.

LH: Yeah, not much more to add to these guys. It looks great.

(Phil Duncan - PA) For you Lewis. The FIA seems to be continuing with its clampdown on jewellery. You said before that you'll continue to wear it. I just wanted to know whether you'll stand by that. And if it gets to a position where they say oh, you can't race if you're wearing the jewellery would you still race? And also, do you feel like you're being singled out a bit by the FIA, given you're the driver who probably wears probably the most jewellery on the grid?
LH: I definitely do wear... I couldn't get any more jewellery on today. I mean, I don't really have a lot more to add than what I already said the last time I was in front of you guys, and we spoke about it. It's... I feel like it's almost like a step backwards if you think of the steps we're taking as a sport, and the more important issues and causes that we need to be focused on and really pushing. I think we made such great strides as a sport. Look, we're here in Miami, this is such a small thing. I've been using... I've been in the sport 16 years, I've been wearing jewellery for 16 years, in the car only I only ever have my earrings on, and my nose ring, which I can't even remove. So, it seems unnecessary for us to get into this spat. And so, I'll try to communicate and work with Mohammed. I think, you know, I'm here to be an ally of the sport, of Mohammad and Formula 1. And as I said, I think we've got bigger, bigger fish to fry, bigger things to do more impact to have. So, I think that's really where the focus should be.

(Chris Medland - Racer) For all the drivers. From next year, we'll have three races in the US. Knowing the kind of home support you guys have enjoyed in your own home races, what do you think an American driver on the grid would do for the sport over here? And are you guys surprised that over the last 20 years, we maybe haven't had more get close, or get on to the grid?
LH: It doesn't really surprise me: I think it's perhaps more a cultural thing. You know, here in the States. It's the NFL, it's NBA. It's NASCAR, IndyCar. And I mean, in my 16 years of coming over here, it's been such a slow build, trying to bring awareness of the sport. Unfortunately, the Americans have to wake up at odd times in order to watch a grand prix. But I think this new step that's been taken, into bringing awareness, the Netflix show, has really just brought in that amazing fan base, a sport fan base that we have, that there is here in the US. And maybe now's the time to start focusing on how we can include more people here, because it's such a diverse country. I'm sure there's some amazing drivers here somewhere, as they've got so many great sporting talents. So, it'd be a good mission for us to find the next one.

PG: I agree with what Lewis said. I think the culture is the main difference. Coming here four or five years ago, I remember all the fans knew about NASCAR, not many knew about Formula 1. I think to see the evolution, the exposure we got as a sport over the last two, three years, it's been very impressive and now the fan base is just growing massively. And we can feel it, as drivers, when we see Austin last year: 450,000 people coming over the weekend was a very, very special and unique atmosphere. So now very excited to come back here more often with Miami, with Vegas. I'm sure with that exposure we're getting now, more and more people are going to get into the sport and yeah, hopefully we will see more of them in the future.

AA: Yeah, I think same comments as the two of my right. I guess it's Alexander Rossi was maybe the last one in Formula 1? It seems like, for now at least, a lot of the drivers who've got close have come towards the European side to learn how to race, in terms of Formula 3, Formula 2 and that side of things. I see it now with Logan [Sargeant] in the Williams young driver programme. He's going that way as well. But it seems like right now, it's a great catalyst for everything to start happening over here. And I'm sure once nce that level starts to help... I think there's just going to be more people arriving, more younger kids interested in Formula 1, and that's just going to help everything. And then the talent is going to come.

SP: Yeah, I think, in my case, for example, coming from this part of the world, it's definitely harder for us because you have to go at a very young age to Europe, I think. Otherwise, it's just harder, because you have to grow up with the best drivers in the world at a very young age, and just develop throughout. In the circuits, with the tyres with the racing. I think they have a lot of talent over here. Hopefully soon we can have an American-based driver because it will be good for the sport. But it's certainly quite hard to do that, because just by being on this side of the world.

LS: Yeah, it would be great to see an American driver in the sport. I think it would definitely expand the American audience. But, like Checo said, the ladder to Formula 1 is more simple when you race in Europe, come from Europe. If you're over on the side of the world, we got to move over to Europe to compete in Formula 3 and all that that stuff, and it's not so simple. But yeah, there's definitely a lot of talent here, and be great to see an American driver in the future.

(Jenna Fryer - Associated Press) For Lewis. You manifested this race back in 2017, I guess. You love the US. I'm wondering, has the atmosphere and the event lived up to what you manifested? And what do you think of that marina?
LH: It definitely is what I expected from Miami. Already, just going through the city, seeing events everywhere. The buzz... I was just in New York, and I would just remember just walking through the streets, and I heard someone talking about 'hey, you going to Miami?' and they didn't know I was there. There's just talk on the streets: this race, and the excitement. I've been to a couple of Super Bowls. This kind of feels like a similar vibe. And what a great place for us to have it, y'know, and around this incredible stadium. I think it's gonna be an amazing spectacle. And also really cool for people across in Europe, and around the rest of the world to see just how great Miami is.

And the Marina?
LH: It's stunning! Like Monaco, not as many yachts I don't think I've seen, but I was out there yesterday, just catching the sun and doing some jet surfing, which was pretty awesome. I saw some dolphins, which is nice.

(Tom Cary - Daily Telegraph) Lewis, another one for you. Just to follow up on Phil's question earlier. Sorry, apologies is going back to something that you've spoken about a lot. But if the FIA really insists on this issue with the jewellery, what is the solution? I mean, you say you can't take it off. They say you have to: what was the end game here?
LH: I really don't know. As I said, I can't remove at least two of them. One, I can't really explain where it is. And, what I can say is that it's platinum that I have, so it's not magnetic. It's never been a safety issue in the past. I've had, in 16 years, so many MRI scans and not had to take out the platinum, for example, because it's not been an issue. So yeah. I mean, if they stopped me, then so be it. We got a spare driver, so we're ready and prepped for the weekend. There's lots of doing the city anyway, so I'll be good either way.

(Giles Richards - The Guardian) Another one for you, Lewis. You said this season is for your toughest since 2009, in terms of the car. Just wondering if you could tell us, in difficult times like these, could you share who you take inspiration from: people, friends, family, team members or people outside the sport: where you where you draw inspiration to carry on?
LH: I wouldn't say there was one individual during this time that I I'm focused on. I think I look all around me, and I see I tried to ignore the negative that I see. I'm not really watching the news a lot, but there's so many inspiring characters out there. And I think just continuously proving that you never give up, you keep pushing. And I love working with this team. Being in a team is such a privilege and working with so many people towards a common goal. And everyone lifted each other up. I've had amazing conversations with my team mates in this past week. Incredible how supportive everyone has been through the difficult times, and then we've had the most incredible times together. So, you know, a couple of bad races is not going to stop us in our tracks. This is where we unite: this is where we learn more about ourselves as individuals; this is where we, we grow the most. And it makes that eventual success - which I have no doubts we will eventually get to - taste even better.

(Nathan Brown - USA Today) Lewis, at the start of your Formula 1 career, the US Grand Prix took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, from what we've seen, from Miami, what we expect to see at Vegas next year, do you feel like a track in a venue that was really built around the history rather than the spectacle of the event, would have a fit on the Formula 1 calendar down the road?
LH: Look I'm a bit old school. So of course, I love the history, particularly in certain circuits. But the older I get, the more I realise it's about the people. We could go to the middle of nowhere that has very few people, not great accommodation, not great community and for us, as individuals, driving on a track that's historic is cool - but it's about the people. And the people really do make... we've experienced with pandemic, no one being in there and that's just no atmosphere. It was like a test day. It was not enjoyable. And now we're seeing hundreds of thousands of people turn up to the race, energised, excited, keen to learn more. And so, I think the fans are at the heart of what this sport is about, they create it. So for me, it's, I think, being in cities where we can really engage in communities and actually also have an impact. When you go to those... I love Nürburgring, for example, but there's not a diverse community there. We're not actually impacting the place there. Here, we can do something. Yesterday, I met a bunch of kids from diverse backgrounds, who now want to get into engineering and STEM subjects and so, it's way cooler for me.

(David Wilson - Miami Herald) For Lewis, kind of following up on what you were just saying. Everyone's saying Miami, but really we're in Miami Gardens, which is the largest majority black city in Florida. Does that have any significance to you? To race in a city like this?
LH: It definitely does have a significance. I think just, as I said, just like in my 16 years... The first five or 10, maybe five years or so, I didn't see many people of colour in the grandstands. When I was on stage, very, very few people of colour, you know, not as diverse as I'd hoped. And as I said, yesterday, I was standing on stage and I'm seeing I'm seeing the crowd as... it couldn't be any more diverse. And that's amazing for me, to not be the only one there, which is nice to see. And it's just it's just great to be seeing that we're tapping into those different cultures, those different communities who perhaps once didn't think it was for them because they didn't see someone that looked like them in the sport, maybe. And I think that's the super encouraging. And as I said, there's more to do in terms of encouraging these young kids not only to be NFL players or basketball players but... education is key and STEM subjects can lead to so many different avenues. And you can be a racing driver, also. So it's pretty neat.

(Ian Parkes - New York Times) To the other for drivers, aside from Lewis, do you guys have any sympathy for Lewis's position with regard to the piercings debate? Is he right? Are there bigger fish to fry? And just to conclude with yourself, Lewis, we're assuming you've made your position clear to the FIA, regarding your piercings, and if so, what was their response? Thank you.
PG: I do understand. I do, I do believe there are bigger, bigger things to focus on. And I appreciate FIA are looking after our safety. That's also their priority and our priority. My personal case, I have also religious item that I wear with me, when I'm racing, which are important to me, which I don't feel comfortable not having was me driving the car. And I do feel it's a little bit personal. We should have the freedom to do what feels right for us. At the end of the day, we have the responsibility to go out there put our life at risk. And I do feel it should be a personal choice, but I respect the FIA and their will to always improve the safety. But I'll appreciate a talk with them, to see if we can find a better solution than such a strict decisions as they made. So we'll see what we can do.

AA: I think Pierre sums it up well. There's not really much to add to that. I still agree with Lewis's comments, I understand. It's our bodies at the same time as well. Like everything when you're older, you're prepared to have those consequences if, you want to do what you want to do, then so be it. You have a freedom for yourself. So yeah, that's all.

SP: I fully agree with Pierre and Alex in this case is good, from the FIA point of view to look after our safety because at the end of the day, it's for us. But as Lewis said, he's been in this sport for so many years, and he's been doing it, and he already has them with him, so it's, it's not like that easy to remove them. So I think it would be good to find a compromise, to work together with them. And, and yeah, just make sure that we are all in the same line and not against each other. And I think that will be the important thing.

LS: Nothing more to add, really. I think it's great that the FIA is looking out for our safety but little things like a little piece of jewellery and stuff, I think it's our own responsibility, as well to just accept the risk of something happening, wearing a bracelet or ring or whatever that might be. I get the big picture. But, I think there's other things to focus on. Definitely bigger fish to fry.

Lewis, anything you want to add about your discussions with the FIA?
LH: I'm willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them in that respect if I need to. But I think, Iike Pierre was just saying, it's about individuality and being who you are. And I did try Mohammad for example this morning, but I'm sure he was super busy. But I sent him a message, just reassuring him that I want to be an ally, I don't want to fight with you guys over this. This is very silly: let's have great weekend. But I've not heard back yet. So, maybe he's texted me. I don't know. But I try and speak to him before the race.

(Luke Smith - Autosport) Lewis after the race in Imola, Helmut Marko said, when you were lapped by Max, he said maybe Lewis thought he should have stopped last year. The day after, I think you put up a post on Instagram saying 'I'm working on a masterpiece - it's up to me when I'm finished'. When you hear comments like that from Helmut, does that motivate you even more just to fight back and get further up the order and back to the top of the game?
LH: I mean, I don't listen to those silly comments to be honest. Ultimately, I mean, there's a... it's been interesting to see there's quite a lot of disrespectful comments that I've seen over time, but it's to be expected. And yeah, I just keep my head down. I know who I am. I know what I do. I love what I do. Going through a tough time. We didn't come out of the starting blocks the way we wanted, but we're fighters. And if you don't know that about me, then you just don't know me and that's totally fine. I'll doing my best to huddle up and group up with the team and fight as hard as we can.

Check out our Friday gallery from Miami, here.

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