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Monaco GP: FIA Drivers Press Conference


Today's official driver press conference featuring all the drivers except Lando Norris.

b}Group 1: Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton

Daniel, if we could start with you, please. Good one-lap pace in Barcelona last weekend, but a tough race. Have you got to the bottom of what the struggle was on Sunday?
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, we do. Yes, we understood, let's say, some issues we faced over the course of the race. And yeah, looking forward to getting out on track here, it's completely different. And, I was just speaking to Kevin, it's been a while since he was here and I was kind of judging his excitement. And obviously we were here last year, but it's always a track you get pumped up for.

You're a previous winner here: is this the racetrack where you feel you can turn things around?
DR: It's definitely a track you can have the power in your hands to do so. It's one that, if you're at one with the car, and you have that confidence, it can turn into something pretty special around here. So yeah, looking forward to trying to exploit all my potential.

Final one from me, I just want to ask you about a quote from your boss, Zak Brown, made earlier in the week, in which he said that your time with the team hasn't lived up to expectations. What's your reaction to that?
DR: Well, it's not false. It's pretty true. It's something that... well, firstly, comments like that I don't take personally. My skin is tanned, beautiful, and also thick. But it's... yeah... no one's going to be harder on me than myself. I know that I don't want to be racing around in 10th, 12th places. I still believe I can be at the front, and belong at the front. So, it's been a little bit more, certainly testing at times, in terms of obviously trying to get up and maximise myself in this car. But yeah, we're working together hard at it. And the team wants it, I want it and we're just working through it.

Kevin, coming to you, you've discussed this already with Daniel - but how much did you miss this race last year when you weren't racing Formula 1?
Kevin Magnussen: A lot. I mean, when I watched the race here last year, that was when it hurt the first time, you know, not being in those cars at this track. It's... yeah, it was a bummer. So, so cool to be back and I'm super excited to be here, driving this track again. I think it's... I agree with Daniel, this track, there's a special buzz around it. I know, maybe the race on Sunday often isn't as eventful as usual but for us drivers it's just such a pleasure to drive.

Now, we never saw what you were capable of last Sunday, due to the clash with Lewis on the opening lap but how good was the car in race trim in Barcelona? Do you think it will translate to the streets of Monaco?
KM: The race pace was good on the car. We got damage, so in the race it actually didn't show so much, but in practice, it looked very good. And the feelings was also good. So, I think it was good, in qualifying, and good in the race, so hopefully we can be good here as well. It's obviously a very different track, but we were good in the slow bits in Barcelona - Sector 3 - so hopefully that carries on to here.

Charles, coming to you now, if there's such a thing as a home advantage, it's about time you got to result here.
Charles Leclerc: Well, I hope so! It's been quite a few years now that I come here to race and I actually never finished a race at home. So yeah, hopefully this year is the right one.

Do you think the strengths of the Ferrari lend themselves to this layout?
CL: I think overall, whatever tracks we have been at this year, we've been competitive, so I think we have a very strong package overall. In the corners has been our strength against the Red Bull - but as we've seen last year, we didn't have a very competitive car, but we arrived in Monaco and were super quick. So, it could be that we have some good surprises and maybe other the teams, that we don't expect to be fighting for pole, are actually there at the top. So, I think it will be an exciting weekend and I hope that for ourselves, we will be strong.

It was a very disappointing end to the Spanish Grand Prix for you. What reassurances have you've been given by the team regarding reliability?
CL: Well, they understood the issue, and that is the most important now: whenever you have a problem, you just need to analyse and understand what went wrong. We did understand what went wrong; we changed a few things and I'm confident that it won't happen again.

Final one from me. Football on Tuesday evening: pleased with your performance?
CL: Absolutely not! I'm rubbish, really. It's not getting any better with years, so it's quite worrying - but luckily for me, I'm better in cars, so it's OK.

Esteban, you scored points here last year; we've scored points in every race bar one in 2022. So how confident are you of continuing the trend this weekend?
Esteban Ocon: It is the goal; it is definitely what we want to achieve again. We need to turn around that qualifying that we had in Barcelona, because you can't afford to make a comeback in the race in here. So yeah, it was definitely a good one on Sunday in Barcelona, very pleased to have both cars, back in the top 10. It was good points for us and good understanding also. But we're going to need to focus more on qualifying this weekend.

The 2022 cars are very different compared to last year. How is that going to manifest itself on a lap of this track? Do you think it's going to be a very different ride? How do you expect them to perform over the kerbs? Can you give us any insight on that?
EO: Yeah, it will probably be more bumpy ride than before, that's for sure. I think hitting the kerbs and the bumps on the street, even though it's a very smooth tarmac, it's going to be a little bit more physical in that respect. Also visibility might be harder, to get closer to the walls, because it hides quite a lot of the vision this week. And braking: that car is quite heavy in general, compared to before. We're working towards getting the performance compared to last year back, but it is more difficult on a tight circuit, to manoeuvre these big cars now.

And how was the road trip, from Barcelona?
EO: It was good. Thank you. Nice to have a bit of sightseeing, with my crew. And yeah, nice to get some cheap meals on Monday after a race weekend.

How many hours?
EO: It was six hours and a half. So, nice.

Lewis, Toto said, said after the race on Sunday that you could have challenged for victory without the incident of lap one. Do you agree with him?
Lewis Hamilton: I have no idea. It's all ifs and buts but we definitely had the pace.

Did your pace on Sunday surprise you and the team?
LH: Yep, we definitely weren't expecting it. I think we were expecting to hopefully be closer to the Ferraris but I think Charles' pace was probably ahead of everyone's but other than that. I mean, yeah, I definitely didn't expect to come so far behind.

So Lewis, what does this mean looking at the bigger picture? Do you have a car with which you could fight for the world title now?
LH: I don't know. It's too early to say. I think honestly, we know that there's potential in the car and I think we tapped into it in the last race. So, I'm really hoping this... I mean, this is a completely different track, so I'm hoping that is not up and down from weekend-in, weekend-out from now on. But my guess is as good as yours.

What was the car like through Sector 3 in Barcelona? The slow corners.
LH: It wasn't spectacular. It was good in the race. I don't really understand why it was good race, but we seemed to be as good as others in a race. But in the single lap, it wasn't that great.

Questions From The Floor

(Ed Spencer - Motorlat) Question to Daniel. You've had a sluggish run of form since Melbourne. Why do you think you are struggling to gel with this car?
DR: I think it's still more than I like to be getting out of it, which sometimes I can see and sometimes it's less clear. I think we've also had a few things that have not gone, let's say, our way interrupted some of the sessions. So it's a combination of a few things, but I think, even putting that aside, yeah, it's still been a little bit tricky for me to always like gel 100% with the car and feel like I can pull out these... I'm trying to say spectacular laps, but that sounds like I'm really bigging myself up! But yeah, just to pull out those heaters. I guess. It has been more tricky. For sure. There's been some races sometimes where it's been good, but we're honestly still working on it. I'd love to say I'm going to be half a second quicker and awesome every race from now. I mean, I'd love to, and I'm working to get that but yes, it's still a bit of a process.

(Alex Kalinauckas - Autosport) It's a question to Kevin, please, given that the Haas operation has changed, since you last raced for the team in 2020, and the base of the operation is now at Maranello, just wondering now you've been back with the team for a few months, what do you think of that arrangement? How's it working for the team? And are you, yourself working any differently away from the races, compared to your previous time?
KM: Yeah, that's been a nice change in the team. And the year I've been away, as you said, they've moved. It's a bigger group now in Maranello, I think that helps communication between the different departments, just being able to go and talk to each other. Our team for all those years have been spread out over the world: in the US; and then two places in Italy and one in England, so very spread out. And I think in terms of communication, it makes it easier when you can just go to mate's desk and have a chat. So, it's better, and it's also grown, and we have more people and it feels better. And, of course, the car shows that too. So it's in a good place Haas are pointing.

(Rebecca Clancy - The Times) Question for Lewis, please. We understand the jewellery issue has been pushed back to the end of June. The drivers are, we understand, talking to the Medical Commission. Just want to ask, from your point of view, have you actually looked into getting your nose stud taken out? We understand that it wasn't quite so straightforward. Will you put your earrings back in for this weekend? And are you happy with the direction of travel that the conversation is going in now that there's a sort of more open dialogue?
LH: Honestly, I feel like there's just way too much time and energy being given to this. So I've said everything I feel I need to say on the last races. And that's not what my focus is this weekend. I've taken out my studs for every time I've been in the car, and I will continue to do so. And yeah, the nose ring is not a problem at the moment.

(Sam De Voogt - NRC Handelsblad) Daniel, I read a quote from you, where you said that you enjoy the race as much as the spectacle of Monaco. And I was wondering, how much do you notice of all the festivities during this weekend?
DR: Oh, yeah, you notice. Some mornings, we'll come in on a boat, There's only one circuit that I've ever rocked up to the track on a boat, so it's unique - and you feel like you're certainly part of the event with little activities like this, or little moments. And you see everything around you. I mean, a lot happens on the water here in Monaco. So you pass one boat, which is huge and then the next one's bigger and then bigger . It's literally surreal. And then in terms of ,like we'll have events through the week and weekend and some evening events but it's not like... we're obviously not... you guys will probably go out Saturday night but I doubt you'll see us out with you Saturday night - but just to know that the whole kind of places is getting into it, and enjoying the event, not only what happens on track but the mornings the evenings, it's fun, it's special, it has a unique kind of aura about it. And I mean the circuit itself is... it's really like no other, So it's a lot of fun.

Let's get one more comment. Local hero, what do you think?
CL: Daniel said it all - but for me it is weird because it's the city which I grew up in, and to see the city just changing completely for the Grand Prix is very, very special. All of my friends, all of my family is here, watching from balconies of apartments of my friends around the track. And yeah, to me feels a bit like a village but obviously on an event like this, it's a bit bigger than a village and a lot of people are coming to Monaco to watch the race, so it feels special.

(No Name, no publication) Question for Lewis. Last year Ferrari had a difficult year, but performed really well here. Obviously the performance of Mercedes last week worked very well. Do you think you can be the surprise of the weekend with Mercedes, let's say?
LH: I mean, I hope so. But we've not been that quick in low-speed so far this year. So I anticipate... they have a lot of downforce, they're going to be quick this weekend. I'm just hoping we're not as far back as we have been.

(Jon Noble - Daniel, we were always under the impression that you have a firm three-year contract at McLaren. After the last race, you said you need to speak to the team before the summer to discuss next year. Are there some doubts or decisions to be made about you will take the next season, or is everything pushing on as expected?
DR: Yeah, it's clear, I've got a contract 'til the end of '23. COVID messed me up. So I just get confused with the years.

(Mathias Brunner - Speedweek) Charles, on such an intense weekend in your home town, how do you find moments of peace, of calmness?
CL: I actually changed a little bit my programme this year, compared to the others. Obviously now it's more normal weekend with the Friday, Saturday, Sunday as we have during the rest of the year. Normally, we had the Thursday for practice. And Friday was full of media for me. And so was the Wednesday - so it was a very busy week. But yeah, this week actually had a bit of media on Tuesday, quite a bit yesterday but nothing too different compared to a normal race weekend, which will probably help for this year. But yeah, the home race is always special. And there's always more things going on. But it's up to me to do in the way that I just put myself in the zone, 30-40 minutes before the session and get into the rhythm, just as I do in other races.

(Ben Hunt - The Sun) Question for Lewis. We're a third of the way through the season now. I just wondered if you could just give us a summary of how you felt your relationship with George is getting along? Obviously, he's hit the ground running and surprised many of us just how quickly it's taken to that car. I just wondered if you could just sum up how you're working with him?
LH: It's going great and not really much more to say what than what I've said before, but he's doing a great job. He's very, very consistent, very clear and concise with his feedback. He hasn't had to gel-in because he was already part of the team. So, it's been very smooth.

(Seitanidis Panagiottis - Car Magazine Greece) Question for Charles. The football game was mentioned earlier. There is a talk of the Nazionale Piloti coming to Mykonos in August. How do you feel about returned to Greece to play football and how important is the summer break for all of you in such hectic seasons?
CL: I think this can be quite difficult to manage with all of our different holidays. I don't think we'll all go to Mykonos. Mykonos is a place I love personally and always love to go there to disconnect a little bit off racing. And obviously I know that the Nazionale Piloti has helped the hospital in Athens for the children who had cancer which was great to play for this cause. But yeah, the summer break is extremely important, and especially on such a long season, seasons get longer and longer so we get more tired every season and it's very important to just relax and recharge the batteries during this time. I did it last year in Mykonos, this year. I'm not sure whether I will have the time to go to Greece, but Greece is always a good time. So yeah, I'll see.

Esteban, summer break?
EO: No plans yet. I don't know. But for sure I need to visit Greece at some point, because I've seen pictures of Charles, being there and all that. It looks cool, so maybe.

(Claire Cottingham - Lewis, a question for you. Obviously, Monaco is massively about confidence and coming away from Spain with the confidence that you got, I just wondered when mentally you are coming into a race like this, where literally anything can happen on the first lap?
LH: Pretty open-minded, really. But definitely excited. You know, this is one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting race weekend of the year. They changed the format a little bit but the weather has been great this past days, and I know Sunday might be a little bit different but it's... just the idea that in a couple of hours, we're going to be out on this track. And there's only 20 of us that get to do it. It's such a privileged position to be in. And such an awesome experience. It's... your emotions are up and down. And then it's going to be fun out there today. I can't wait. And of course, since we've just made some changes in the last race, it won't be I don't think it'll be as bad as it had been in other races, but I won't hold my breath.

(Luke Smith - Autosport) Daniel, you're a two-time pole winner here in Monaco. This track obviously it's so difficult to race, but drivers talk about the qualifying thrill. When you hook up a pole lap around here, is that as good as it gets in Formula 1? And is Saturday in Monaco, one of the highlights of the season - if not the highlight?
DR: It truly is, yeah. Saturday, Monaco, it's probably the biggest day in F1 over the year, and it's definitely the biggest day if you get it right. That that feeling of putting it together. And it's just ... like every circuit requires full commitment, it's obvious, but this is this is another... there's more variables, there's more factors, there's just something else. And you also don't really have time to think: there's no real long straights; there's no fresh air coming through because it's so tight and twisty through the streets. So, it's all like you're just in it and you can't really get out of it, if you know what I mean. So when you hook the lap up, it's... yeah, you feed off each corner: every corner you do well, you link the next one up, and it's a pretty beautiful feeling. Honestly, as Lewis just touched on, it's a privilege for us to race these cars around here. It's ridiculous. In the best way possible.

(Giles Richards - The Guardian) Question for Lewis and any other drivers who'd like to take part. We all know you as drivers like racing on this circuit but realistically, with these current cars, with their width and their weight, do you think you'll actually be able to race them at all against one-another on Sunday?
LH: We all know what kind of race it is, the actual Sunday. It's all about qualifying. So Saturday is the day. And then Sunday, it's most often, generally, unless you luck-in with a bit of strategy. Generally, I mean, there's not many overtakes here, I think, ever, so... and now the cars are bigger and heavier, and there probably won't be any more. It'll be the same.

EO: The emphasis is definitely going to be on qualifying again, as Lewis said. I don't think the rule change is going to help a lot for this track. Even if you look at the touring car races, it is tricky for them as well. It's not necessarily the downforce issues or the weight. It's just that it's very tight, the track, and if you cover the inside, you don't have much chance to pass. So yeah, as usual, it's going to be a big fight on Saturday.

(Ian Parkes - New York Times) Lewis, I appreciate your comments earlier that you've expended too much energy on this particular subject, but is it at least a positive from the drivers perspective that the FIA and its medical commissioner Dr Sean Petherbridge, in particular, has at least listened to the comments of people like yourself and the other drivers and they are happy to work with you on the jewellery subject? Thank you.
LH: It came in in 2005. I think we've all worn jewellery our whole careers in Formula 1, it's not been a problem in the past and there's no reason for it to be a problem, necessarily, now. There are positives that we're working with them. And I think they're accommodating a little bit at the moment. But we shouldn't have to keep on revisiting this thing every weekend. We've definitely got bigger fish to fry. Not literally obviously, but you know what I mean!

(Aaron Deckers - Racing News 365) To Daniel, just a short question to clarify. Is it a three year contract or two-plus-one?
DR: It's a three-year. So, end of '23. And then... yeah, there's, yeah... let's say that.

(Matt Kew - Autosport). Quick question to Lewis. We're now, give or take, a month out from the British Grand Prix, which is a sell-out crowd. But given the narrative around yourself and Mercedes, perhaps a bit different going into this one, I just wondered if you had a message to the fans that will be going?
LH: I don't know if there's a different narrative. I'm hoping by then, we are where we plan to be. I know everyone back at the factory is working as hard as they can, to continue to make advances with the car and I have no doubts that that we will. And yeah, I'm hoping by Silverstone we have the car where we need it, at least by then, to be able to fight these guys for the win. That's what I'm working every day for, is so that we can fight on home turf, and give them the best race we can.

(Matt Coch - Speedcafé) Daniel, Tom asked you earlier about the issues you had in Spain. Just picking at that a little bit, can you elaborate? Is it something that is likely to rear its head again? Was it set-up ? Driving style, etc? Can you be more specific with what it was, and if it'll reoccur elsewhere?
DR: Yeah, so we basically found an issue on the car. It's rectified. That's the right word. Basically, it's been fixed, for people with more simple English, like myself. And yeah, so coming into this weekend we're all sorted. Fresh start, let's say.

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